Onboard Air India One, June 29 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said on Monday that the Indian Diaspora living abroad must not allow the divisive politics of the subcontinent to derail their cohesiveness and that they must remain united and take pride in their achievements as a community.
Interacting with the media onboard Air India One while heading for New Delhi after attending the fourth Group of Twenty (G-20) Summit in Toronto, he said that he had had an occasion to meet with parliamentarians belonging to the Indian Diaspora in Toronto, and had praised them for their achievements as Indian origin communities, and lauded them for creating a niche for themselves in Canadian public life, in the Canadian economy and in services.
When asked whether he had been asked for his reactions on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the June 1985 Air India terror explosion that claimed 329 lives off the Irish coast, Dr. Singh replied in the affirmative.
He said that he told the parliamentarians that the two incidents were "horrible crimes," and added that those who perpetrated them should be brought to book.
He also candidly admitted that delivering appropriate justice to the people marred for life by such incidents was something he felt helpless about, and that was because there were weaknesses in both the Indian and Canadian legal systems.
"We are trying to address them; address those issues, but cannot offer any compensation to those who have lost their near and dear ones in these tragic circumstances," Dr. Singh said.
Revealing that the first UPA Government (2004-2009) had opened up all cases of the so-called compensation claims, Dr. Singh said: "I don't say it is adequate compensation at all, but we have opened up to what more can be provided in terms of relief; in terms of succour, to the victims and their relations so that they can once again lead a life of dignity and self-respect."
"It is futile on my part to say forget the past, the past is there. We cannot get away from our past. But the challenge is how to move ahead in a world which is increasingly globalised, which is increasingly becoming an integrated one world," the Prime Minister said.
Dr. Singh said that the Indian Diaspora is a group of enlightened individuals, who had distinguished themselves in their own walks of life, whether it was in politics, industry, trade, or science and technology, and therefore this community need not advance itself by living in the past.
He said that his message to them was that while they had every right to be emotional about India, or about the provinces of various states, they should attempt to always remain united.
India, he said, takes great part in their achievements, and added that India was a country of great capacity, a country of great diversity, in which Sikhs were an honoured part.
Sikhs, he said, should not narrowly confine themselves to the state of Punjab. They must move ahead, even as tragedies like the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 unwittingly create an atmosphere, which "saps initiative, which saps creativity.
"The people of India have proved or are eager to prove, that they, when given the proper environment, are second to none," Singh said, adding that it has always been his endeavour to realise this objective. By Ashok Dixit (ANI)