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Year-Long Centenary Commemoration of Komagata Maru Incident Inaugurated

Sep 30, 2014 15:57 IST

The year-long centenary commemoration of 1914 Komagata Maru Incident was inaugurated on 29 September 2014 by Union Ministry of Culture on completion of 100 years after the incident.

The event was organised to pay tribute to the heroic struggle of 376 Indian immigrants on board the ship the Komagata Maru against discriminatory immigration laws of Canada in the early years of twentieth century. A set of commemorative coins of denominations of 100 rupees and 5 rupees was released to mark the occasion.

Union Culture Minister Shri Shripad Naik honored three granddaughters of Baba Gurdit Singh: Harbhajan Kaur, Satwant Kaur and Balbir Kaur on the occasion. Baba Gurdit Singh was the hero of the Komagata Maru episode.

Background
The National Implementation Committee in its first meeting on 8 July 2014 decided to hold the inaugural function to commemorate centenary of the Komagata Maru incident on 29 September 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.



National Implementation Committee
•    The Union Government constituted National Implementation Committee on 5 May 2014 to chalk out programmes for creating awareness about the heroic struggle of Indian migrants. These programmes will be taken up during the period from 29 September 2014 to 29 September 2015.
•    The programmes include national and international conferences, publications, development of digital archives and preparation of films and documentaries.
•    The National Implementation Committee also approved a proposal from Punjabi University, Patiala for the production of a play titled Komagata Maru – 1914.
•    It has also decided to hold a week-long function at Vancouver from 23 May 2015 to 30 May 2015 which would include cultural events, seminars and exhibitions besides honouring the descendants of the Komagata Maru passengers as well as non-Indians including Canadians who rendered assistance both to the cause of Komagata Maru passengers.

Komagata Maru Incident
The Komagata Maru incident was about a Japanese steamship named the Komagata Maru that sailed from Hong Kong, Shanghai, China to Yokohama, Japan and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1914.

It carried 376 passengers from Punjab, India. Among them 24 were admitted to Canada, but the 352 other passengers were not allowed to land in Canada and the ship was forced to return to India. The passengers consisted of 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, and 12 Hindus and all of them were British subjects.

The Komagata Maru arrived in Calcutta in September 1914. The British Imperial Government saw the men on Komagata Maru as dangerous political agitators. The police went aboard the ship on 29 September 1914 to arrest Baba Gurdit Singh and other leaders.

The arrest was resisted by the passengers which led to police firing in which 19 passengers were killed. However, Baba Gurdit Singh escaped along with many others. The rest of the passengers were sent to Punjab.

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