Dressed in colorful, traditional garb, thousands of Sikhs converged upon The City on Sunday in remembrance of a violent chapter in India’s history.
Carrying signs that read “India out of Sikh homeland” and “10,000 Sikh pilgrims murdered in cold blood,” the marchers’ goal was to bring awareness to the June 6, 1984, storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian army. The march proceeded along Market Street to the Civic Center.
According to the website History.com, the storming of the temple was the climax of two years of fighting between the Indian government and Sikh separatists. Indian troops fought their way to the Golden Temple compound in Amritsar, the holiest shrine of Sikhism, killing at least 500 Sikh rebels. More than 100 Indian soldiers and many nonbelligerent Sikhs also died in the battle, according to the site. Riots followed, leading to even more deaths.
Many Sikhs gathered at the march on Sunday, however, said the incident that happened 31 years ago was akin to a massacre. “We’re out here to let people know what happened,” Simranjit Singh, a San Francisco resident who participated in the march.
The march attracted Sikhs from temples and communities around the Bay Area and state, like Harjinder Purewal of San Jose. “It’s about Sikh rights. Equal rights in India. There are people in jails in India from 1984 that have already served their sentence. But they are still laying in jail,” Purewal said.
Gurneel Singh Bopari, 16, of Sacramento, passed out fliers and pamphlets out about the incident and Sikhism during the parade. He said the march was significant because Sikhs and others groups continue to be persecuted in India — and he hopes the United States government will take note. “We’ve been getting a lot of good response from the American government, and we also want the support of the American people,” he said.