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Year-Long Centenary Commemoration of Komagata Maru Incident
Oct 01, 2014

As a tribute to the heroic struggle of Indian immigrants against discriminatory immigration laws of Canada in the early years of twentieth century, the Government of India has decided to commemorate the centenary of Komagata Maru incident on completion of 100 years after the incident. A set of commemorative coins of denominations of Rs. 100 and Rs. 5 was released to mark the occasion. 

By commemorating Komagata Maru we commemorate not only the 376 Indians on board the ship the Komagata Maru but also all the Indians who have since the early decades of the last century landed in the shores of other countries 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. The overseas Indian community now constitutes a diverse, heterogeneous and eclectic global community representing different regions, languages, cultures and faiths. The common thread that binds them together is the idea of India and its intrinsic values. 


Government has constituted a National Implementation Committee to chalk out programmes to be taken up during the period from September 29, 2014 to September 29, 2015. The Committee has chalked out a number of programmes such as national and international conferences, publications, development of digital archives and preparation of films and documentaries etc. 


Ministry of Culture has also received a host of proposals from individuals. For instance a proposal from IIT, Kharagpur wants to throw light on the Komagata Maru journey by tracing it back from Budge Budge Kolkata to Punjab and to understand its significance for addressing contemporary discourse on nation, diaspora and citizenship. An International Seminar titled Komagata Maru: Context, Significance and Legacy is also proposed to be organised. The 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 23rd May to 30th 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 financially and legally to the cause of Komagata Maru passengers. 


On May 23, 1914, Komagata Maru, a Japanese steamer, carrying 376 passengers from Hong Kong, mostly being immigrants from Punjab, British India, arrived in Vancouver, Canada. It was denied docking by the Canadian authorities. Following a two months stalemate, the Ship was escorted out of the harbour by the Canadian Military and forced to sail back to India. 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  September 29, 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. Baba Gurdit Singh escaped along with many others. The rest of the passengers were sent to Punjab.  


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