"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Hari Sharma remembered in Abbotsford Featured


A towering South Asian activist and scholar, the late Hari Sharma, was remembered at an event organized in Abbotsford on Sunday, March 17.

Sharma passed away on March 16, 2010 after losing his battle with cancer.

Punjabi Sahit Sabha (Mudli) – a Punjabi literary group - organized the program at the Sikh Heritage Gurdwara. Significantly, the gurdwara was established by supporters of the Ghadar Party, a radical group of political activists formed in 1913 to fight back against racism in North America and British colonialism in India.

Sharma was among those social justice activists who believed in the policies of the Ghadar Party, which wanted to establish a secular and socialist republic in post-British India.

Sharma was a tireless champion of human rights who consistently raised his voice against the repression of minorities and political dissent in India. He staunchly opposed the Emergency that was imposed by the late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975 and remained a vocal critic of massacres engineered against the Sikhs and Muslims by the so called secular Congress party and the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) respectively. The attacks on religious minorities have grown in India ever since the BJP came to power with a brute majority in 2014. 

Sharma had been instrumental in inviting activists from India to raise awareness of the prevailing circumstances in India in North America. He was a force behind Indian People’s Association in North America and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy. He was equally active in campaigns against war and racism. 

The main organizer of the Sunday event, Dr. Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal, believes that with the rise in populism and bigotry all over the world, including India, Sharma’s legacy has become even more relevant today.

The event was started with a moment of silence for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Among the speakers were Deputy Speaker of BC Legislature Raj Chouhan, Surrey Greentimbers MLA Rachna Singh, former BC Human Rights Commissioner Harinder Mahil, Sikh Nation volunteer Sunil Kumar, veteran Marxist activist Gurmeet Singh Tiwana and poet Mahima Singh Toor.

Notably, Sharma was a mentor of both Chouhan and Mahil, while Singh and Kumar shared their personal memories of the deceased activist. The speakers were unanimous in their observation that Sharma is being greatly missed due to the growth of right wing forces all over the world.



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