The Fresno City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday night on a resolution to recognize the 1984 killings of thousands of Sikhs in India as a genocide.
The vote comes nine months after its initial proposal by Councilman Clint Olivier. It also follows a controversy in June after the Indian consul of San Francisco met with council members to convince them Olivier’s draft resolution was inaccurate and one-sided.
Olivier tabled the resolution to do more research after Sudarshan Kapoor, a retired Fresno State social work professor and longtime peace activist, spoke out against it. Kapoor said the resolution would create hatred and bitterness.
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This time, the resolution is sponsored by Olivier, Oliver Baines and Esmeralda Soria. Other council members have expressed reservations about it. Lee Brand said the council shouldn’t engage in such political statements and that the resolution would just further divide the Indian community.
The language of the resolution has not changed since it was first proposed.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the resolution at 6 p.m. Sharnjit Purewal, general secretary of the Sikh Council of Central California, said there will be a short presentation detailing what happened in 1984. Buses will transport community members from Sikh temples to City Hall to show their support.
In 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. That was the catalyst for a massacre of thousands of Sikhs, followers of the world’s fifth-largest religion. The Indian government estimates 3,000 were killed, but Sikh advocates say it was closer to 30,000.
Sikhs are a minority group in India but make up the vast majority of Indians in the central San Joaquin Valley. Other cities in California, including Bakersfield and Kerman, have recognized the killings as a genocide.