From my extensive study of all the material available on the genocide of Sikhs in 1984, I have come to conclude that there was/is criminalisation of politics and that our police force is unreliable in critical times.
Although there was a communal element present in the genocide that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination, it can hardly be defined as a communal riot. It was in the first place, a one sided affair. The Sikhs did not play any aggressive role in it. They were always at the receiving end. They tried to save themselves on some occasions but that defence was not major and curbed by state machinery using Police. On the other hand there were considerably large number of Hindus who saved Sikhs at the cost of their own lives.
I have concluded that rioting and genocide cannot be attributed, except marginally to the death of a popular leader. I strongly believe and will try to establish in this piece that genocide was meticulously planned by the state and the natural anger about death of a prime minister had very less to do with it. No Sikh was killed on 31 October, although the news of Indira’s death was known since 10:30am.
Some of the reasons that have compelled me to write this are the stories that were cooked up and circulated on 1st Nov.
1. The violence was purely communal- Hindu Vs Sikh affair.
2. It was spontaneous outburst of people to teach Sikhs a lesson
3. The killing of Sikhs had begun from 31 oct accompanied by all kinds of rumours from celebrations by Sikhs, poisoning of Delhi’s water and that a train full of Hindu bodies was sent from Punjab (Jhelum express)
These were not at all true. None of these. Yes few incidents of violence took place on 31, including burning a Gurdwara and beating few Sikhs, but no one was killed on 31st October.
In this piece I have tried to bring out how people’s anger went from doing nothing on 31st to burning Sikhs alive on 1st November.
In this piece I talk about the meetings that were held all over Delhi- Central, outer and Trans Yamuna area during the late hours of 31 October to give final touches, as it were to plan already prepared meticulously to exterminate Sikhs. From collection of kerosene and incendiary material for dousing the men before they were burnt, to collection of killers before they were brought from villages, to amenable neighbors; from fixing the hours of attack to be launched simultaneously all across Delhi in the forenoon between 9am & 11am to organising the attack and deciding if it should be repetitive or two pronged as in war; from identifying jhuggis and houses occupied by Sikhs to disarming the Sikhs and dissuading them from taking their Prabhat Pheri; from fixing the sequence of targets of attack to floating the rumours, everything was done with precision.
After reading this piece you should be able to conclude
1. The violence was not spontaneous but organised by the members of congress.
2. It was not a communal riot but it changed the communal relations as its aftermath
3. It was primarily meant to arouse the Hindu nationalism sentiment to be used in the coming elections.
4. The state had forgotten its role to protect its own people.
Prelude to the violence
After assassination of Indira Gandhi, media focused on the fact that two assassins were Sikhs. As if by design the entire blame of those grave tragedy was put on these two individuals and later transferred to entire community.
According to Statesman of Nov 1, a Sikh was beaten up at 11am near Writer’s building and one more Sikh was attacked in Kidderpore area around the same time. A Sikh was assaulted near Tea Board at 1:30pm. The national press reported that congress workers had organised mobs and were on the lookout for Sikhs. Army was called in at 2:30pm and things calmed down a bit.
The very first incident of violence took place in Calcutta
In Madras city, mobs took over smashing the windows of shops and burning two buses of Adarsh Vidyala run by Punjab Association. A Sikh was killed at 04:30pm when he was passing through a congress area.
In MP, angry mobs attacked the shops and petrol pumps belonging to Sikhs in Jabalpur and Indore. Army was put on alert.
UP witnessed terrible incidents of loot, arson and mobs. However army was called in and things were in control, but it was not enough and 3 Sikh students who were going to Delhi were beaten and lynched on highway.
In Orissa, congress workers attacked Sikhs in Bhubaneswar and set trucks on fire. Crowds collected in Gandhi Chowk and continuous Ramayan Paath was begun with sloganeering against Sikhs.
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu region of JK experienced worst form of arson, looting and killing. Farooq Abdullah took upto 02:30pm to decide to call army. Army was out at 05:00pm but it was too late. Shops of Sikhs in Rehari, Jewel Chowk, Nanak Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Satwari were burnt. Mobs led by prominent congress leader and loyalist Raman provoked riots. Many Sikhs lost their lives and properties. 3 Sikhs were burnt alive in Jewel Chowk. A total of 22 Sikhs were killed in jammu. Kashmir region remained peaceful and a terror outfit claimed to issue a ‘dare’ any ‘Hindu’ to kill Sikhs in kashmir. That however was not numerically possible as well.
Most of Delhi Sikhs were congress supporters and many of them shocked and grieved had reached AIIMS, it was around afternoon that their manhandling started. Even president’s car was stoned when it slowed at entrance of AIIMS. At about 4pm, some looting of shops and burning of vehicles started at south extension and INA market.
A Sikh youth’s turban was tossed at INA market by 30-35 people on 31 oct. Some people of the market dispersed the crowd and saved the Sikh man.
Then the mob moved to Safdarjung airport flyover. They spotted a car with an elderly Sikh gentleman inside. The Sikh man stepped out and told them that he is an ex army man, but he was beaten up and his turban was tossed on ground. He was not killed.
Around the same time, a mail van driven by Sikh was burnt in Jor Bagh- Safdarjung airport crossing. The Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Laxmibai Nagar was set on fire just as Gurdwara in East Kidwai Nagar. Two private buses were also set ablaze. Police was watching all this passively.
A significant incident and worth mentioning happened at 05:30pm when Rajiv Gandhi came out with folded hands followed by HKL Bhagat, a huge crowd had gathered and was chanting “Indira Gandhi Amar rahe” and “Khoon Ka Badla khoon se” Bhagat came out and scolded the crowd saying, “What is the point of shouting this here?” (This-Khoon Ka Badla khoon se). “Jahan jana hai waha jao”
Comparing the events of 31 oct with 1Nov, it can be seen that incidents on 31 were nothing like what happened on 1Nov-3rd Nov. In retrospect, it is perhaps not implausible to suggest that between the time of assassination and time of her son rising to throne, three crucial decisions were taken by someone in logical sequence
1. Rajiv Gandhi must succeed as the new prime minister
2. Elections must be held forthwith to cash in on the ‘sympathy’ factor.
3. Sikhs as a community must be taught a lesson and demonstratively so-this was felt necessary to consolidate the Hindu public opinion swaying towards Indira Gandhi and her party after the army action on Golden temple in June. The situation changed dramatically after the assassination. The Hindu community’s confidence in the ability of ruling party to give protection to Hindus against the “militant” Sikhs would have shattered, the hindu votes would have swung towards the opposition, if nothing whatsoever was done to suggest immediate ‘retribution’ for her assassination.
Violence was reported all over Delhi on Nov 1. In central Delhi the most affected localities were Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Janpath, CP, Sadar Bazar and Gurdwara Rakab Gunj Sahib.
In east Delhi violence occurred in various trans Yamuna Colonies such as Gandhi Nagar, Shahdra, Tirlokpuri, Kalyanpuri, Vinod Nagar, Pandav Nagar, Gamri, Bhajanpura and Nand Nagari.
In the west, serious trouble spots were Mongolpuri, Sultanpuri, Moti Nagar, Naraina, Patel Nagar, Inderpuri, Punjabi Bagh, Paschim Vihar, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar and Janakpuri.
In the north, some of the worst incidents occurred in AshokVihar, Jehangirpuri, Gulabi Bagh, Kashmiri Gate, Kingsway Camp and Azadpur Mandi.
The worst affected areas in South were, South Extension, Safdarjung Enclave, Kalkaji, Khan Market, Greater Kailash, Sarojini Nagar, Maharani Bagh, Defence Colony, Nizzamudin, Bhogal, Hari Nagar Ashram, Okhla Industrial Estate, Panchsheel enclave, Gulmohar park, CR park, Lajpat Nagar and Vasant Vihar.
Hundreds of Gurdwara were set on fire. Mobs tried to attack even Gurdwara Rakab Gunj Sahib and Sis Ganj Sahib.
Shops owned by Sikhs were set on fire indiscriminately at various places such as Azadpur or Nehru Place Kalkaji.
Number of cinema halls owned by Sikhs were reduced to ashes such as Janak Cinema in Janakpuri, Deep at Ashok Vihar and Chanderlok in CR park
Even schools were not spared from arson and destruction such as Guru Harkrishan Public school in Vasant Vihar, two of its branches in Sarojini Nagar and Loni Road,the Mata Jai Kaur school at Ashok Vihar, and the Takshilla Public school at Loni road.
The scenes at Lohia hospital was an indication of what was happening in the city. People were brought in with stab wounds, pellet injuries, rod injuries, lathi injuries etc. In one ward alone (ward 10), 115 people were brought upto 5pm.
Some Sikhs had been brought from railway station. All were dragged out, kicked and stones used on rail tracks used to injure and hurt them.
Before I go into the details of each locality, it is wise to bring to notice that this was the pattern
1. Systematic violence as distinct from sporadic of 31 erupted in all parts of Delhi simultaneously between 9-11am
2. The initial target of all attacks was Gurdwaras in the localities, as if they wanted to rob Sikhs of their dignity and pride.
3. The duration of violence increased as we move away from centre of Delhi. In its peripheral areas it lasted for 48-72hrs.
Jehangirpuri Resettlement colony (Blocks A,C,D,E, EF, G,I,J & K)
The crowd before swelling up and proceeding towards Jehangirpuri, burnt and looted 8trucks in Sabzi Mandi. At around 10am, the mob reached Jehangirpuri and burnt three Gurdwaras one after the other. The mob burnt the shops and cars of Sikhs in the area. The violence continued upto 6pm till all the Sikhs they could find had been killed. A municipal councillor Arjun Das was seen inciting the crowd yelling “you only have 72hrs, no one will stop you, but if a Sikh survives, you will not survive”.
Arjun Das was gunned down in 1985 by a bearded Sikh and two clean shaven ones.
Gajendra Sharma who lived in K block had list of all the Sikh houses, and once the houses were identified, they were set on fire, the violence continued sporadically till 3rd November till army arrived. Gajendra Sharma was shot dead by unknown gunmen in 1990.
Mongolpuri Resettlement colony
At 10:15am the members of congress and workers from the area had tried to go to Teen Murti for Darshan after burning a Gurdwara. They were stopped by police and made to talk to Jagdish Tytler on Police wireless. Jagdish told them that reinforcements are coming and that burning one Gurdwara doesn’t make them lucky enough for Darshan of Mata. By then congress workers were brought in DTC buses from Pooth Village. The crowd of 8-10 swelled up to 200. By 11am another Gurdwara was burnt down. When the houses of Sikhs were attacked, Sikhs resisted with their swords. The crowd retreated and went to local congress office. The crowd followed by congress men complained to police about armed Sikhs. Police arrived and after firing few rounds in air, convinced Sikhs to deposit their weapons. Sikhs not knowing the plot gave their weapons and their lives soon after.
According to Piara singh of Budh Vihar, “on 1Nov at around 12 noon, Nishan Sahib Of Gurdwara was thrown down & Gurdwaras property looted. About 3500 people were there. The situation calmed down after that”
“At night they came again at around 9pm, around 09:30pm they were beating a Sikh named Jitti. I had earlier told my father to seek refuge in a Hindu house, My father and uncle Makkar singh had gone to Hindu neighbors house. After beating Jitti, they headed to the house where my father was hiding. The Hindu who had given refuge to my father told him to leave as crowd threatened to burn his house. They saw my father escaping. Someone hit him hard with an iron rod on head. 30-40 men were beating him while others looked for more Sikhs in house. They were constantly hitting my father and shouting in the lane, “is there any other son of a snake?” Two men stood near my unconscious father waiting for someone to come save him. After no one went there, they threw him in the Nalla and urinated on him. After sometime, the wall of house I was in was broken and some in crowd said “look son of a snake”. Someone else said that I should be left alone for second round. They left me.”
Around 200 Sikhs were killed in this area.
Sultanpuri Settlement colony
On Nov 1, round 3pm, A4 block in Sultanpuri was attacked by a 200 strong mob. The mob came from the direction of Mongolpuri. The timing of attack here had to be different from the morning, as in all other areas, to afternoon because the killing and looting in Nangloi, Mongolpuri and Budh Vihar had taken much longer time than planned. The pattern however was the same- Gurdwara was burnt along with the Granthi singh in it, then looting and arson of Sikh houses began followed by brutal killings of Sikh males and rapes of females. The destruction of block A4 was total because the attack continued way past midnight with an interval at 4am and orgy continued unabated till 9am of 2Nov.
Congress leaders like Sajjan Kumar, and local gundas like Vinay Kumar and Ashish Katyar from C-2 and kerosene supplier Vinod along with police officers were seen by people and identified as well by the survivors. The crowd however was composed of people from outside- Gujjars, Jammadars and Bhangis backed and used by congress ring leaders, police and local goondas.
The number of widows in Sultanpuri alone is 144.
Kalyanpuri Resettlement colony
On Nov, 1 at around 09:35 am it was reported that a Sikh has been killed in block 36 near Chand cinema, the Sikhs assembled and decided to defend the gurdwara. A 200-300 strong crowd was seen coming from block 33. It reached Gurdwara in no time. Most of the Sikhs trying to defend it were hacked to death and Gurdwara was burnt. Some Sikhs were thrown into fire while few were burnt alive with tyres around their necks. The mob then went to houses of Sikhs that were identified already. A prominent congress leader HKL Bhagat’s nephew had the EC voter list showing the complicity of election commission as well. Sikhs defended themselves from the roofs of their houses. The Hindu neighbors too helped Sikhs. The crowd headed by Bhagat’s nephew and he was heard saying “Inho ne maa ko maara hai, Sikho ko nahi Bachana hai, Hindu Dharm bachana hai” (Clearly it was used by Party high command that Hindus are in danger).
Sikhs and their Hindu neighbors went to congress leader Dr Ashok for help. Ashok refused any help and also did not allow them to use the telephone. The mob was getting successful in jumping walls and in infiltration of poor defence system. In no time 32 Sikhs were killed. 6 were burnt and 20 women were raped right in front of their children.
Trilokpuri Resettlement colony
The violence began at 09:45 am. A crowd of 400-500 saw a Sikh on the main road. The scooter of a passerby was stopped, petrol was taken from him and the Sikh was soaked in petrol and burnt alive. Singh Sabha Gurdwara Of block 36 was burnt with granthi and his son. A professor saw policeman around the burning Gurdwara. The professor later testified in front of Commission. The chief assailant was one whose mother was important functionary of local congress unit. She was mysteriously shot in Gurdaspur in 1992 when she had gone to attend a wedding.
By 11am, crowd reached two corners of sector 32. Dharam Das Shastri Of Congress was seen leading the crowd. He was carrying a can of petrol himself with a saffron flag. A silver lining was seen amidst all this, between the crowd and Sikhs stood a mosque with five houses of Muslims who were not sympathetic to congress. The survivors say that they tried to pacify crowds but since crowd started using popular Hindu slogan of Jai Shri Ram, they let them do their job. They didn’t want to be collateral damage. Meanwhile a crowd from Chillia Gaon which is about half a kilometre in the east had attacked Gurdwara Of block 32 near Valmiki temple. Sikhs defended it upto 3:30pm.
As soon as Chilla Gaon crowd arrived, the defenders fell and slaughter started. Around 20 girls were picked by Chilla Goan villagers. On 7th November, 6 girls were recovered from village. The girls were raped for 6days. 14 girls died either in rapes or resistance.
The slaughter in this region continued unabated till 3rd morning.
Hari Nagar Ashram (New Delhi)
Violence in this area began at 11am when a 1000 strong crowd split into two proceeded to destroy simultaneously Bala Saheb Gurdwara and the Sikh pocket in Shalimar Theatre area.
The Gurdwara was badly damaged, most of the Sikh houses were turned to ashes. A Sikh was burnt in the Chowk with loud sloganeering. In Shalimar theatre area, 40-50 trucks, scooters etc were burnt. A govt contractor of electronics was beaten and burnt to death with his two sons.
Congress leaders particularly Brahm Yadav, the municipal councillor and his cronies were seen leading the crowd.
What stands out is the behaviour of police, a lady asked a police man if she could go get some milk for her baby, to which he replied “aadhe ghante k liye dhudh pilao tumhare bacho ko katenge”. The lady survived and testified later.
The violence that began in the morning lasted till 8pm killing more than 200 Sikhs.
Round about 10am in the morning, violenceerupted in Nizamudin area. 86 trucks owned by Sikhs and their houses were burnt. Sikh taxis in the taxi stand were also set on fire. Coming inside the block C, the house of Sikh was set on fire. A unique kind of unity was seen between Hindus and Muslims of the area. The Muslims of Nizamudin area and Hindu crowds from Bhogal joined together and new slogan “Hindu Muslim Bhai bhai, yeh Sikh Kaum kahan se aayi” was heard. Gurdwara singh Sabha Bhogal was burnt down.
The Method and Meticulous Planning of Genocide
Meetings on 31 October
There is enough evidencethat congress leaders held several meetings on 31 to discuss and plan the carnage that started on 1st Nov.
1. In Vinod Nagar according to a survivor Ram singh, a prominentleader of congress from Vinod Nagar called a meeting in the evening of 31 October which was attended by congress workers, local smugglers, ration depot owners, kerosene depot owners, bus drivers, sweepers. The meeting continued upto midnight. Ram singh says that all men left the congress office at 12:30am and they all were laughing and talking loudly. Ram singh who stayed near Congress office was attacked early in the morning by crowd of 200 men. His Hindu neighbor saved him and his son by hiding them under his bed. The Hindu neighbor sent Ram singh to Himachal and saved his life.
2. In Khajuri Bhajampura (C Block) Gamri Area, a congress leader who is Gujjar by caste called a meeting which was attended by his son, kerosene depot owner (Shyam), principal of local school in Bajampura, and an exhaustive list of Sikh families was made based on data these people could furnish. (Which is a lot). C Block left 105 widows and 155 people dead.
3. In Kalkehsan Basti near Nizamudin, a meeting was held over tea which was attended by Muslim Congress leaders, Bus drivers and a comprehensive plan to exterminate Sikhs was made.
According to PUCL survey there were three types of people involved in genocide; those who identified Sikh households, mobilised hoodlums for mayhem and supplied fuel for arson. According to survivors these came from; a) local level congress politicians b) ration shop owners, c) kerosene shop owners d).
All surveys and commissions note that not an insignificant portion of victims and their neighbors said that the attacks were motivated by congress politicians. And higher %age 42% identified Congress sympathisers as assailants.
Method of identification
Identification of Sikh houses and shops was done in a systematic manner by 1) Persons moving on scooters, in matadors as if making survey of the places. 2) Checking up the names of Sikhs from schools and college registrations. 3) With the help of Ration cards and voter lists. 4) By marking Sikh houses with red paint, like in Nazi Germany.
Nanaksar report identifies seven congress members who went house to house collecting election cards of Sikhs in Khajori colony. The survivors identified them all.
Collection of Incendiary Material
Kerosene was collected from-
Jhuggi dwellers as in Niazamudin area by local goon Salim Shams.
Ration shop owners
Kerosene depot owners
Nanaksar report points out the congress men who got truck loads of kerosene drums on November 1, which were gathered at Azadpur and coordinated by Lalit Maken. He made sure each area is supplied with kerosene and phosphorus which was supplied in from neighbouring industrial estate and Noida. All survivors have pointed out ‘safed cheez’ that mob carried. The powder was phosphorus.
Collection of Mob.
1. In Hari Nagar Ashram, assailants 200-300 arrived in Delhi- Palwal shuttle express from Faridabad at 09:45am and also by Kutub Narmada express by 11am. They joined the local mob from JJ colony.
2. In Jehangirpuri the collection of mob is similar, the villagers came from Balaswa, Ramgarh and Badli
3. In every settlement colony, outsiders were brought in by DTC buses and then taken away after the job was done.
Composition of mob
1. Anti social elements, some of them dacoits with criminal background were let loose from jails. These people were identified by locals. Raman Gujjar, Shiva Chotu, Rocky Bhai were identified by locals of West Delhi.
2. Scheduled castes (Bhangis, jamadars, chammars etc) were brought in by giving them money and full freedom to grab whatever they can from ‘Sikhs’.
3. Gujjars, Jaats were hostile to Sikhs because their lands were taken by govt for settling Sikhs. Even though they were paid by govt but they held resentment against Sikhs.
Types of Killers
Congress ring leaders paid 1000/- to each person who killed Sikhs. People were bragging about killing 2-3 Sikhs. Maken who was holding responsibilities of payment in an area of Delhi was often seen distributing cash in his white ambassador car. HKL Bhagat was seen distributing cash as well. Much has been talked about presence of Kamal Nath outside Rakab Gunj. Many survivors identified him and there are proofs of meetings held at congress office where he participated in late hours of 31 oct.
Method of attack.
Depending on the area the attacks were sequential or simultaneous. The rule book of attack was same throughout Delhi.
1. Burn Gurdwaras
2. Burn houses
3. Kill Sikhs
In the overall planning and execution, slogans had an important role to play. Some of the important slogans used and narrated by survivors were
“Indira Gandhi Zindabad
Indira Gandhi Amar Rahe
Jab tak Sooraj Chand rahega
Indira tera naam rahega
These were followed in almost same breath with
Khoon Ka Badla khoon se lenge
Sardaroko loot lo, sardaro ko jala do
Hindu muslim bhai bhai, sardaro ki kare safai
Hindu Muslim bhai bhai yeh Sikh kaum kaha se aayi
Rumours played an important and vital role in meticulous execution of Genocide.
The very first rumour that was subtly pushed on 31 oct was that Sikhs of Delhi are celebrating by distributing sweets and bursting crackers. The rumour was set to create anti Sikh tone in Delhi. All writers and people who saw the mayhem note that this is not true and the three incidents of people celebrating in Punjab were used as rumours to incite locals as a whole. HS phoolka contested this rumour with the fact that Sikhs gathered at Teen Murti on morning of November 1 to pay respects to late prime minister and were man handled within few hours. Similarly Sikhs in Jehangirpuri organised a shok Akhand Paath in the memory of late Prime Minister. The granthi and his son were burnt alive by mob in evening.
Media played important role in showing the sloganeering crowds “khoon Ka Badla khoon”
The second phase of rumours came after burning the Sikh Gurdwaras. The rumour was set by congress men that Gurdwaras had weapons and arsenal and that Sikhs were planning to kill all Hindus of Delhi. This gave legitimate reasons to even some sane neighbors of Sikhs to go mad. The neighbors in Patel Nagar damaged Gurdwara but did not set it to fire because they found nothing in it.
Third rumour was set in after the mobs were going crazy. The rumour was set to make the locals hostile to Sikhs. The rumour was that Sikhs had poisoned the water of Delhi. As a part of plan Jal Board stopped answering calls of frantic citizens. This rumour played an important role in some neighbors denying help to Sikhs.
The last rumour that was meant to provide a reason for carnage was that a train full of Hindu dead bodies has arrived at New Delhi railway station. Jhelum express it was. Railways took 20yrs to clarify that nothing of that sort happened.
Delhi Jal Board members were transferred immediately on 5th Nov. Jal Board and DTC were never held accountable for their complicity in crime against humanity.
The role of Police has made everyone question the credibility of Delhi police. No amount of touch ups will ever help it get rid of the stains. Delhi police was complicit in action by
1. Not registering FIR’s
2. By threatening Sikhs to stay in their houses
3. Helping mobs by de weaponising Sikhs
4. Participating actively in killing and burning of Gurdwaras
5. Killing those who were helping Sikhs
6. Blaming innocents with Fake FIR’s. In a unique case in Tirlokpuri, a Hindu man was accused of rioting. The survivor identified the man and said that he had helped him and was not an assailant.
7. Shielding the top brass by not conveying information
8. Making false entries in the log book
9. Sikh policemen were taken off duty
10. Some policemen who did their job well were suspended on 1st Nov.
Was it a communal Riot?
One of the characteristics of communal violence is that it might flare up suddenly but it never ends abruptly like violence in Delhi did. No one can control inflamed passions if it is a communal problem. It is blood for blood and both sides spill some. Delhi genocide was a different case. It was purely organised and meticulously planned as I have explained in this piece. No communal riot is one sided and no side hands over its weapons in a communal riot. This however doesn’t mean that some elements who were hell bent on creating communal tensions were not active,
There was a letter from Hindu Suraksha Samiti on 27 oct addressed as “Dear Sardaro” which was shown by survivors at Balasaheb Gurdwara, it threatened Sikhs to be shaven and tonsured as a retaliation to Hindu killings in Punjab. Hindu Suraksha samiti members however were not identified to be rioters except for two congressmen who were also part of Samiti. Samiti later distanced itself from those members.
“Hindus in colonies after colonies decided to form their own protection squads against gangs of plunderers”
“Disgusted by utter failure of police and govt, Hindus decided to patrol their colonies to protect Sikhs in colonies”
Some of the colonies where these squads were formed were Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar, Shiv Nagar, Janakpuri
“Muslim houses formed buffer in Bhogal and helped Sikhs escape into a mosque. However when assailants came into the mosque, the Sikhs couldn’t be saved.”
In Kalkaji Hindu and Muslim neighbors helped in getting the valuables out of the burning Gurdwaras including the holy books. Hindus even in the chaotic times brought the Guru Sahib bir with utmost respect and without putting on the shoes.
According to a questionnaire shared by Phoolka Sahib with the residents of affected areas in Delhi, 70% said that they tried to contact their Sikh friends and neighbors after the news of Sikh killings broke out. 59% said that they tried to help Sikhs. 39% said that they gave shelter to Sikhs. 12% informed police about presence of Sikhs and violence. 69% of the survivors questioned said that their neighbors helped them.
I will talk about the aftermath in two ways.
1. For Sikhs
2. For congress
The genocide was used by Congress to make sure there is a Rajiv wave in the upcoming elections. As a matter of fact the genocide of Sikhs was orchestrated in a manner to establish Rajiv Gandhi with a landslide victory, and that did happen when Congress won 404 seats. Everybody won. Everybody who was out there plundering and rioting won. The big question always remained that if majority community did not support the genocide, how did congress secure the seats. Congress might not have been entirely successful in making an ordinary Hindu man go out and kill his neighbor but it was successful in planting the idea that Congress is the strongest party and saviour of Hindus. Hindus saw it as a party that eliminated Sikh militancy in their den and then avenged the killing of Prime Minister as well. All scholars note that this land slide victory was not possible without evoking the ‘Hindu is in danger sentiment’ and that is where the role of RSS is noted.
RSS did not participate in killing or plundering for it has maintained its policy of not firing the gun on Sikhs. RSS congress nexus was a masterplan of RK Dhawan and Rajiv Gandhi. RSS today bites it’s tongue talking about it and says that it got played by the games of Congress.
Rajiv’s election campaign was aggressive and focused on making Sikhs seeking a separate homeland a key issue. The hidden agenda was to somehow exploit insecurity within the Hindu community and project the Rajiv-led Congress as their sole saviour.
Riding on the wave of sympathy from his mother’s assassination and looking to mine the Hindutva brand of politics as far as possible, Gandhi decided to set up a meeting with then sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Balasaheb Deoras.
Former Congress leader Banwarilal Purohit, who was then a Lok Sabha member of the party from Nagpur, has claimed to have played the role of mediator between Rajiv and Deoras.
Making this revelation back in 2007, Purohit reportedly said, “Since I belonged to Nagpur, Rajivji wondered if I knew then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras. Upon hearing my ‘of course, very well’, he wanted to know my opinion on whether the RSS would support the Congress if Shilanyas (foundation) at Ram Janmabhoomi is permitted.”
Aftermath for Sikhs.
1. Sikh migration from Delhi took place at large scale. Trains full of Sikhs were seen moving to neighbouring state of Punjab. This is noted by all commissions after finding increase in advertisements for Electricians, repair men, Automobile repairmen etc. None of the Sikhs were compensated for their losses of property. Sikhs sold their properties below the market price to their neighbors or the real estate goondas.
2. The killers of Sikhs were roaming free in Delhi years after the carnage and it was not safe for survivors. Sikhs were threatened by police and influential people to change their statements.
3. Majority population of Delhi elected the killers of Sikhs again and again to rub it against Sikhs. This was not surprising given the mindset that congress programmed.
4. Many Sikhs cut their kesh and led lives as Hindus after the carnage.
5. The 300 widows were poorly compensated and no compensation from government was made. The false claims were made all round but nothing was done on ground.
6. Apostasy among Sikhs increased. Sikh mindset was deeply hurt. They were for the very first time butchered and killed without fighting back. Sikh scholars have noted that Delhi sikhs developed a syndrome of “Loyalty to Party in power is loyalty to nation.” It is therefore not surprising to see most Delhi Sikhs strong supporters of who ever is in power.
7. Sikhs were discriminated against in all parts of india. Sikh students were denied admissions in Mumbai. There are cases of Sikhs being denied reservations in top hotels citing security concerns.
8. Sikh and Hindu relations were damaged even though the genocide was not communal at all. Large scale efforts are needed to repair the relations.
Truth and Reconciliation
Truth and Reconciliation is the only way Sikhs will get justice. Following are the key demands of Sikhs
1. Immediate punishment to all the people who are guilty and are roaming free.
2. Acceptance of the crimes by state and disclosure of State planning
3. Compensation to the victims as per the guidelines suggested by commissions.
4. Declassification of all files related to death of Indira Gandhi.
5. Disclose of bank accounts and transactions of all key leaders of congress during that period.
6. A white paper on role of police and its negligence of duty.
7. Posthumous charge of crimes and involvement in genocide for those who are dead.
8. Apology by Congress party for damaging the Sikh-Hindu relations
9. Apology from Congress leaders for making derogatory remarks about the victims.
10. Rehabilitation of all the victims and migrants who are not able to lead their lives properly till this date.
In another piece which is part three of this series, I will talk about the massacres that continued even after Delhi calmed down.