NATIONAL

Komagata Maru centernary observed

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to the immigrant community of the United States, a year-long centenary commemoration of the Komagata Maru incident — in which 19 Canada-bound Indian immigrants were killed in police firing on September 29, 1914 near Kolkata — was launched here on Monday.

The commemoration was launched by Union Minister of State for Culture Sripad Naik in the presence of three granddaughters of Baba Gurdit Singh who was among the leaders of the 376 immigrants aboard the ship that had been turned away from Canada and forced to return to India. The British imperial government saw the men on the ship as dangerous political agitators, and sent the police to arrest Singh and others. While Singh escaped arrest, 19 men were killed in the firing.

Coins released

The Minister released a set of commemorative coins of Rs. 100 and Rs. 5 denomination at the inaugural function. In his inaugural speech, Mr. Naik said by commemorating Komagata Maru, the nation remembers not only the 376 Indians on board the ship but all the Indians who have moved overseas in search of greener pastures. “It reminds us of a huge and vital role played by those who lived away from the country but kept bonds with India intact and alive,” he said.

A number of events have been planned for the centenary including development of digital archives and a week-long function at Vancouver next year to honour the descendants of the Komagata Maru passengers, including non-Indians and Canadians who extended legal and financial help to those on board. Also under consideration is a proposal from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, to throw light on the journey by tracing it back from Budge Budge in Kolkata to Punjab.