Fresno city councilman Clint Olivier has withdrawn his resolution surrounding the 1984 Sikh riots.
Fresno city councilman Clint Olivier has withdrawn his resolution surrounding the 1984 Sikh riots.

FRESNO, Calif. (Diya TV) — Fresno city councilman Clint Olivier has withdrawn a resolution which he authored that declared the 1984 riots following the death of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi a “genocide” against Sikhs.

Gandhi was murdered in cold blood by her Sikh bodyguards in the assassination.

After meeting with Indian Consul General Venkatesan Ashok in San Francisco and Indian-American community activist Sudarshan Kapoor, Olivier temporarily withdrew his resolution, saying further research was necessary on his part. The Indian government has previously said 2,800 were killed in the week-long riots, but Sikh advocates have said more than 30,000 people were killed.

Local newspaper the Fresno Bee interviewed Ashok after he sat for his meeting with Olivier, publishing the interview in their June 22 edition. In the interview, the consul general said “extremists” are pushing for the resolution. The organization Sikhs for Justice have advocated for a separate nation known as Khalistan to be carved out of Punjab.

Ashok said the India government has acted in the wake of the violence, distributing compensation in the amount of $130 million to victims of the event. He cited that 442 people have been convicted for their roles in the attacks, and that the massacre has been investigated on multiple occasions. In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is Sikh, apologized for the tragedy, Ashok added.

“Why is it now necessary again to rake it up and relive the whole thing?” he asked.

The aforementioned Kapoor, a retired Fresno State professor and longtime peace activist, told the Bee that such a resolution would “sow the seeds of hatred, bitterness and animosity.” The Sikh Council of Central California has banned Kapoor from attending Sikh events.

Councilman Olivier told the Bee that he introduced the resolution after speaking with members of the Sikh American community, but has since changed his mind on the matter. “I don’t believe it’s the function of a city council member to invoke diplomacy. It is not my intention to cause discord,” he said.

Ashok has drawn considerable backlash after his referral to the Sikhs for Justice organization as “extremists,” including the group filing a complaint with the U.S. State Department.

Sikhs for Justice filed its complaint on June 24, saying Ashok abused his diplomatic status by violating Article 41.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which says every diplomat has “a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of the State.” The organization has additionally called for his expulsion from the United States.

Sikhs For Justice organized a rally June 25 to protest Olivier’s withdrawal of his legislation and to protest Ashok’s comments to the Fresno Bee.