Over 5,000 Canadian Sikhs gathered at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to show solidarity with Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is on death row in India for the 1995 assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
The Kesari Nishan Rally was held Wednesday to implore Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to leverage Canada's position in the world and its relationship with India to seek a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in India, according to US based community group, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which co-organised the rally.
A memorandum was also handed over to members of parliament asking Government of Canada to intervene on behalf of Canadian Sikhs and impress upon India to follow a 2008 UN Resolution and abolish the death penalty, it said.
Several members of the Canadian Parliament attended the rally and joined Sikhs in demanding that India abolish the death penalty, SFJ said. "As Canadian Sikhs we are united in our opposition to India's ongoing use of the death penalty despite ongoing international pressure including UN resolution 62-149," SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.
Following the Canadian tradition of respect for the sanctity of human life, Canadian Sikhs strongly oppose the use of the outdated and barbaric death penalty, he said. The rally was organised by Sikh for Justice (SFJ), Ontario Gurudwara and Sikh Council (OGSC) and Ontario Gurudwara Committee (OGC). The execution of Rajoana, scheduled for Saturday, has since been stayed by the Indian government.