All Rights Reserved, (c) Burning Punjab, 1997-98
Gurcharan Singh Babbar has released the English version of his book Government organised carnage of November, 1984 in which more than 5,000 Sikhs were slain, 20,000 were injured, 50,000 families were uprooted, hundreds of Gurudwaras were ransacked and thousands of copies of holy Guru Granth Sahib were burnt in a calculated and well-planned manner by the then congress Government in India. The book presents a horrible eyewitness account of the worst ever genocide of Sikhs in India. It is an eye opener for the Human Rights Organisations all over the world to have a glimpse of the pseudo-humane face of Indian democracy a stigma on the forehead of evolution of Human Culture and civilization. 
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The police played a uniform role throughout the city during the days of anti-Sikh violence from October 31 to November 8 (When the army was withdrawn after being called on November 3). The police did the following three things: It was completely absent in most areas and, where present, it looked the other way. Worse still, many police personnel played a direct and indirect role in carrying out the killings and looting. If this is not telling enough, there is more.

On November 1, when the rioters were killing, burning and looting in South Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area, a single police van stationed there was doing nothing to stop the mobs but trying to prevent a procession of peace-marchers (all common citizens outraged at the mass-scale violence) from moving towards the area. An Inspector prohibited the peace-marchers from going to the spot of violence because of curfew in the city (under section 144 of the Indian Penal Code). The Inspector was quoting rules to the peace-marchers while the killers had been given a free hand to fill their cup of anti-Sikh violence. The Inspector even told the peace marchers to proceed towards the rioting mobs at their own risk. The marchers went ahead and tried to calm the mobs by telling them that ordinary Sikhs, who were being targeted by them, were not responsible for Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination and that the anti-Sikh violence must be stopped. They raised slogans like "Hindu Sikh bhai bhai" in order to pacify the mob. But some men from the mob retaliated, "Indira Gandhi Zindabad, Hindu-Hindu bhai bhai."

It is significant to note that peace-marchers all over the city were reduced to a joke by the blood-thirsty mobs and although the mob claimed to be mourning the assassination of Mother India (as Mrs. Gandhi’s was referred to), there was nothing the slightest sign of grief on their faces. Had it not been for the killing and the looting, one would have thought the mobs were participating in a carnival.

In some cases the police, even when it was approached by Sikhs for protection, either refused to help or when it did offer help, it was to the killers, not to those getting killed. According to the account of many witnesses, policemen actually helped the mobs in identifying the houses of Sikhs and, in Trilokpuri, a police vehicle was seen handing out diesel oil to the mob which had fallen short of it. The SHO, Kalyanpuri (under Trilokpuri district), has been charged  with recalling some cops stationed in the colony just when Sikh women were being gang-raped after their men had been killed. The SHO of Sultanpuri police station, Bhatti, is alleged to have snatched the weapons of Sikhs who were trying to defend  themselves against the killer mobs. Residents of Loni Road in east Delhi say that the police used mikes to announce  from moving vehicles that Sikhs should prepare to defend themselves as the police was no longer responsible for their safety. A woman from this place says, she saw some men throwing stones at Sikh shops from a police vehicle and, in another instance, a cop was seen directing the crowd to loot a shop before burning it down. In Kotla Mubarak, a domestic help told one of our party workers that the police instigated the mob with such statements : "We gave you 36 hours to finish the Sikhs, but what did you do?  Had we given the same amount of time to Sikhs they would have finished all the Hindus." The survivors in the Kingsway Camp claimed that 70 percent of the loot from Sikh establishments could be found in the local police station, such was the role of the police in the violence. Even Hindu neighbours of those affected by the violence in some cases would vouch for the fact that the police refused to register the first information reports (FIR). One eminent Sikh, whose house was burnt on November 1, failed to get an FIR registered despite repeated pleas to the police. In Mongolpuri an SHO is learnt to have told the Hindu neighbour of a Sikh family not to bother about the safety of Sikhs and bother instead about the safety of Hindus.

Two residents of Ber Sarai, Dharmraj and Rajvir Pawar have a telling story. They went to the R.K. Puram police station on the night of November 1 to seek protection for a Sikh neighbour. The rest of the neighbours were, meanwhile, busy trying to protect the neighbour targeted by a mob, led by congress party member. Jagdish Tokas. The SHO R.K.Puram told the Pawar brothers that he could do nothing to help while the constables on duty questioned the wisdom of " Jats (pawars are also Jats) helping the Sikhs instead of killing them." "Don’t you know Sikhs are sending train-loads of Hindu dead bodies from Punjab?" the Pawar were asked.

Not to forget here, however, that some police officers did try and intervene to stop the violence but their efforts and good intentions got lost in the majority voice, which was filled with hatred and hostility against the Sikhs as community.

A senior police officer told me that when he heard about a couple of thousand people ‘pa trolling’ the streets of Delhi on two-wheelers, scooters and motorbikes, he tried to contact the detective wing of the Delhi Police, the CID or Central Investigation Department but that he failed to make any contact although CID is supposed to have a wireless communication network.

In the face of the all-out police negligence and connivance in the violence, it would be naïve to imagine that it could happen without the knowledge of the Union Home Ministry, which, till datam controls the police set up (in what is a major bone of contention between the state and the central government). It is important to recall here that Mr. P.V. Narasimaha Rao was India’s Home Minister at the time (having been appointed by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who took over as prime minister after his mother’s assassination). It was Mr. Rao who was responsible for ensuring the safety of ordinary citizens. If he felt that the police personnel were not enough or that they were unfit to deal with the situation, he had it within his powers to call the para-military forces to contain the situation.

Mr. Rao, who later became the country’s prime minister (ignore the fact that he is the only prime minister to have been charged with cheating, bribery and forgery in India) was, even then, seen as an "able administrator" , the main reason why he was chosen to be India’s Home minister by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. He could even have summoned the army if he thought the situation warranted it and yet Mr. Rao neither called the para-military nor the army until the worst of the carnage was over (not before 5,000 Sikhs had been massacred in an unprecedented  show of mob violence in free India). And, if this is not bad enough, he went on the national telecast to say, "enough has happened, we must stop now." Was this leader of the Congress party after Jawaharlal Nehru!) or, evidence of the official policy? For, did not Mr. Rajiv Gandhi justify the massacre with that infamous statement, " when a greet tree falls, the earth shakes." ? If governance and a political system are worth anything, and we are not just talking about the world’s largest democracy, the killer mobs could not and would not have moved an inch towards their targets without the implicit and explicit sanction of the authorities and the highest authority of them all was the country’s home minister, Mr. Rao. I need say no more on Mr. Rao’s role or that of the police, which takes orders from the home ministry.


The ruling party and the bureaucracy, taking orders from the former, both deliberately and wilfully neglected their duties right from October 31 to November 4, 1984. Many opposition leaders would vouch for the fact that their pleas to the administration to contain the situation in the post-assassination period went unheard. When opposition leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee (who is now the leader of the opposition in the people’s house) contacted Mr. Rao on October 31, the latter is reported to have assured him that the situation would be brought under control within a few hours. Never mind the fact that just when Mr. Rao was saying this to Mr. Vajpayee, the Additional Commissioner of Police, Gautam Kaul, was telling a crowd outside Ayurvggayan Institute that the police was in no position to control the situation. Surprisingly, Mr. Kaul was later promoted.

According to information provided by highly placed sources, a meeting at Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s residence (No 1, Safdarjang Road, which is now a national museum, his late mother’s residence) on October 31, a senior police officer made an emphatic suggestion that the army should be called to contain the situation but he was not heard. The meeting, presided over by the price minister, was also attended by the then Lt. Government of Delhi, P.G. Gavai and Congress leader M.L. Fotdedar ( a close associate of Mrs. Gandhi’s), among other top people of the administration. On November 1, when Delhi was literally on fire, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi phoned up his cabinet colleagues, Mr. Shiv Shankar and P.V.N. Rao, to find out what the ground situation was. The ministers assured the prime minister that the army was about to be deployed and that curfew would also be imposed. In the afternoon, the same day, a delegation of prominent citizens met the country’s president and wanted to know the government’s mind on calling the army. So, there were some feeble attempts to contain the situation but even they turned out to be not-starters.

What we saw and experienced, however, not only points to the sins of omission by the government but also those of commission. What else can explain the following facts? On November 1, throughout the day and night, Sikh shops were being burnt down right in the heart of the New Delhi, Connaught Place. Police and para-military were very much there on the scene but none of them lifted even a little finger to stop the crowd.

On November 2, the newspapers carried government announcements on their front pages about "indefinite curfew" and " shoot at sight orders" and these announcements were being made in the middle of the massacre (when armed mobs were combing the streets and residential complexes for Sikhs). In fact, on November 2, the mobs were much larger and more vicious in their killing acts.

In Lajpat Nagar, the police was sitting quiet as the mobs lay in wait for their prey right on the main roads. So brazen was the mob that when the army marched through Lajpat Nagar on that afternoon, not one of them even made the pretence of moving away. Very ceremoniously, they made way for the army to march through and then sat right back on the road.

Two opposition MPs. Made repeated requests to Mr. Rao and Mr. Shiv Shankar to provide security to Sikhs travelling in trains coming from Punjab and elsewhere but nothing was done. The result was the butchering of Sikhs travelling through or to Delhi. According to one newspaper report, four Sikhs were found dead at New Delhi railway station on November 2, and this number was just the tip of the iceberg. But so smug was the official machinery that Doordarshan denied the newspaper report as though mere denials would stop the anti-Sikh violence. A Statesman correspondent reported that at Tughlakabad station, he saw two charred bodies lying on the platform and, a few yards across, a group of the army. On November 3, the army was called but it either reached the scene of violence afterwards or hardly did anything to save the situation. It was only over the next week or so that the army played any effective role but by then the worst had already happened. According to our information, the Faridabad DC asked for army help on November 1, but received it only on November 3.

While analysing the role of the administration through those dark, death-filled days, we cannot just end the matter by laying the blame on the door of the administration. No official, without the explicit sanction of the higher-ups, can turn a blind eye to such mass-scale violence and, the higher-ups right upto the home minister and the prime minister were very much in the know of the happenings. I suspect that either Mr. Rao failed to give orders to the Lt.Government of Delhi or that the latter failed to carry out the orders to stem the tide of violence. In such a situation, should not both of them face the music for such criminal neglect of their duties? When questions like this cropped up, the Lt. Governor went onleave and a new one was posted in his place. The man who became the new Lt. Governor in place of Mr. Gavai is Mr.M.K. Wali. This appointment was even more ironical than the exit of Mr. Gavai.

Just before being posted as the new Lt. Governor, Mr. Wali was, hold your breath, Home Secretary. In other words, everything that happened from October 31 to November 3 was with his knowledge. How could a man who had proved himself as an utter failure while in-charge of internal security at the top most post, be expected to look after the city administration? Or was he expected to look after the civil administration of Delhi in the aftermath as well as he had looked after the law and order situation in his previous post? If that is the reason why he was made Lt. Governor by his political masters, he did not disappoints them because his attitude towards the families of the victims, huddled in relief camps was just as kind and considerate as it had been when their men were getting killed and their lives being systematically destroyed in every possible way.


Our investigation into the role of the army at all levels leads to the following key questions. Why did it take the government so long to call the army? Secondly why did the army, which is renowned for its efficiency, fail to contain the situation despite there being curfew in the city?

All the top officials including, four senior ministers had full information on the goings-on in the city right from the time violence started. This information was formally available to the government through leaders of the opposition and eminent citizens who met its representatives to find out that the government was doing to contain the situation. Even then, the government did not take any step.

A top source in the government revealed that, in any such crisis and this was a crisis more serious than any other in free India’s history, there are strict guidelines to deal with it. As per section 130-31 of the criminal procedure code (C.R.P.C.), even a Superintendent of police (S.P.) and the head of the civil administration, the District Commissioner (DC), have the authority to seek the army’s help if the law and order situations demands. Besides, the services of the para-military forces are certainly available to the civil authorities.

Look at what the rules say about the circumstances under which the army can be called (under section 130 of the C.R.P.C.):

(1)  If a mob posing a threat to public peace cannot be dispersed through regular means, the District Magistrate can seek the army’s intervention to do so.
(2)  The Magistrate has the power to contact the top officers of any of the defence forces and seed their help to his or her district. The Magistrate can also order the arrest of the trouble-makers as also have them booked.
(3)  Every defence services officer in-charge of a situation has the power to tackle it as per his assessment , but with the use of minimum force against any person and without causing unnecessary damage to his or her person or property.

According to section 131 of the CRPC, in case the army officer is unable to make contact with the head of the civil administration about a situation where a crowd is indulging in violence jeopardising public security and safety, he has the powers to take steps to control the situation including the arrest of those posing threat. However, wherever possible the army officer will await instructions of the civil in-charge to take any such action and to decide how long he should keep the peace-keeping operation on.

The army was alerted on October 31 itself. This in effect means that the army could have reached Delhi from the cantonments in Meerut and Agra. According to army sources, the key to the implementation of curfew orders is not the numerical strength of the army personnel but the clarity and resoluteness of the order itself. However, despite announcements of the curfew and shoot-at-sight orders on the officials electronic media and the privately owned newspapers, the police, whose job it is to apprise the army about the ground situation, kept the army totally in the dark. There was no central control room from where such information could be made available. On the other hand, a few days later, when Mrs. Gandhi’s corpse needed an army escort, 3,000 army men and a 1,000 of the other two forces, navy and air, were suitably present.

It is the simplest procedure which needs to be followed to bring in the army to control a situation. All that the Lt. Governor has to do is to apprise the home minister, who, in turn, should contact the defence minister (Mr. Rajiv Gandhi also had the defence portfolio at that time).

The efficiency of the army’s role in safe-guarding internal security depends on a key factor, the establishment of a central and joint control room of the police and the army. In 1947, the then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru had ordered Governor General Lord Mountabatten to set up such a control room. Some war veterans who met the home minister, Mr. Rao, after Mrs. Gandhi’s killing even referred to this as a means of convincing him about the gravity of the situation and the steps he could take to control it. The situation in November 1984, for any body who cares to recognise it, was as bad as at the time of India’s bloody partition in 1947m and yet, neither Mr. Rao nor any member of the government cared to do the most basic thing, the setting up of a joint control. The police commissioner was operating from the police headquarters at ITO, the army area commander from the Dhaula Kaun cantonment and the Lt. Governor from Raj Niwas. The result was total lack of  co-ordination and therefore, the total futility of calling the army. There were curfew orders in the city but nobody cared to implement them. An army Major told a newspaper reporter (The report carried on November 4, 1984) that not only did the police not co-ordinate with them but also misled the army in some cases. The same reporter found the junior officers of the army twiddling their thumbs in the face of the massacre because they had lost contact with their headquarters and they had no orders to act.

The army’s helplessness is also evident from an instance where a Major was using an old guide map to reach one of the worst affected areas in east Delhi. As per rules, personnel from the local police should have been accompanying the army. According to an army source, a strange method was employed to deploy the army. The civil authorities did not give the army full information at any stage and when it got orders to act, the worst had already happened (Maj. Gen. J.S. Janwal’s statement in the Indian Express, November 8, 1984). It was only to ensure that Mrs. Gandhi’s corpse reaches the cremation ground safety that the defence forces were used to their fullest capacity.

The account of the army’s role also proves that the civil administration had no clear plan to contain the situation, that the army was called much too late and, worse still, even after that, it was made to feel redundant. Besides, the police also played a direct role in the killings and arson.

Whatever may have been the motive behind this strange way of treating the army and regardless of who was responsible for rendering it impotent, it can be said with emphasis that the treatment meted out to the army had a very crippling impact on the morale of the defence forces. Our sources in the defence forces, during informal discussions on the subject, condemn the treatment given to the army during those violent days.

According to the sixth report of the National Police Commission, the tendency of district administrators to await orders from the top before acting on any situation is reprehensible. " Take serious note of this tendency," said the report. It is evident from the events of the first week of November 1984 that the administration, despite having all the powers to deal with the situation either did not use them or, worse still, was intentionally ignoring its duty. It is the same civil administration which is opposed to the intervention of the army for controlling Hindu-Muslim riots and insurgency in the north eastern states of India.

All these questions need to be examined, because the civil authorities at all levels displayed a uniform and criminal disregard for its role, which it is obliged to perform as per the constitution. Fourteen years later, the authorities are still resistant to the idea of acting against any one of the officials for dereliction of duty at that time. We need to ask vital questions of the government and we must compel it to answer them. Is there anybody to tell us why the Lt.Governor did not ask the home minister for the army’s help? Or, what were the prime minister and the home minister doing at that time? Or, can the government wash its hands off the entire tragedy by simply removing the Lt. Governor and the police chief Subhash Tondon?

A group of eminent citizens was approached by the families of the victims seeking the army’s help (they had seen the police role and were convinced that the police was siding with the killers) in Trilokpuri. The group made several attempts to contact the home minister and the home secretary but neither of them was available, not at home, not at the office. In the belief that the opposition leaders may have easier access to the home minister and senior officials of his ministry, the group met with some of them, including, Masseurs George Fernandes, Chandra Shekhar, Biju Patnaik and Madhu Dandavate but they all reported the same story, their inability to contact the minister or his officials. Finally, Mr. Dandavate is reported to have caught up with Mr. Arun Nehru at the residence of the prime minister and communicated to him the request made by the Sikh families of Trilokpuri. Mr. Nehru, who was just an MP told Mr. Dandavate that he would send a wireless message to alert the army. The army was called but it is significant to find out whether all it needed was a wireless message from Mr. Nehru to call the army and, if he had such powers as a mere MP, why could the home minister not use the powers he had to bring the situation under control?


The Congress Party leaders, workers and supporters, as is evident from the testimony of hundreds of the victims’ families, played the most decisive role in both planning and organising the anti-Sikh violence. And, not just the affected people but also their Hindu neighbours have confirmed the vicious role of the Congress party in the massacre. In Mongolpuri, Ananad Parvat, Prakash Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Trilokpuri, Munirka, Kidwai Nagar, witness after witness has confirmed the role of the Congress party workers and leaders in the killings. People who have been specifically named as having directed the violence or having directed the violence or having participated in it include, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tokas, HKL Bhagat (all ruling party MPS then), Arjun Das Ishwar Singh, Mahendra, Mangatam, Bhairav and Satbir Singh, to name a few prominent ones.

Attempts have been made to project the allegations levelled by the affected people against the Congress party as "politically motivated." The charge does not however hold water because majority of the Sikh families here were supporters of the Congress party. The shocked Sikh families of Trilokpuri and Mongolpuri, among the worst-affected colonies (set up under the Indira Gandhi Urbanisation Programme as mentioned earlier), could not believe that they had been made the targets of violence following the assassination of a prime minister who commanded their support and loyalty. " These houses were given to us by Indira ji, we always voted her party. Why were we attacked?" several people asked us during the survey.

Other indications about the role of the Congress party members mentioned above and in the earlier chapters. Include the fact that, many of them tried to use their political clout in order to secure the release of those arrested for the violence.

According to an Indian Express report (November 6, 1984), Congress M.P. Dhram Das Shastry went to lodge a complaint in the Karol Bagh police station against some cops for "misbehaving" with his party supporters, with whom the police had found some of the loot taken away during the violence . At the same time H K L Bhagat was trying to secure the release of some of his supporters at the Gandhi Nagar police station.

According to a top source in the police, some of Congress party members were told by the police to help it raid the houses of people known to them to recover the loot as a quid-pro-quo for the release of their workers arrested on charges of violence. Besides, they will have to stand as witnesses, they were told. At this, the Congress member chickened out and gave up trying to free their workers from judicial custody.

There are examples galore of how even the Sikhs loyal to Congress were not spared. Sikh Congress MP Charanjeet Singh’s soft drink factory was burnt down, costing him a loss of one crore. Mr. Singh later said that he had contacted the Lt. Governor and the Police Chief several times to seek their help but no help was given to him.

Sajjan Kumar has alleged a political design behind the naming of his party men in the testimonies of witnesses and also accused the RSS of being involved in the violence. But, he has not been able to point an accusing finger at any one of the RSS members.

There are also reports that some senior Congress members and officials gave instructions to the police to deal softly with those arrested after November 3 for their involvement in the violence.

The police is even reported to have announced amnesty for those who would surrender the property looted from Sikhs. No action would be taken against such people, they were told, in what must be a unique way of handling criminals. The police have not denied making such an offer to the criminals and in the absence of a denial, it can be presumed that some influential people had planned this unique scheme to suit their vested interests.

Another pointer to the role of the Congress party in the carnage is evident from the fact that none of the leaders, neither those alleged to have engineered the violence nor any other, has expressed the confidence to face a court of inquiry into the allegations levelled against them. The best way for them to clear their names, if the charges are as false as they claim, is to face a judicial enquiry. When a delegation led by the former prime minister, Mr Chran Singh met Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and drew his attention to the reports in the Indian Express about the Congress MPs trying to get their supporters released from custody, Mr. Gandhi’s answer was, "just as National Herald daily belongs to the Congress party, the Express is the Opposition’s newspaper" implying, thereby, that the report need not be taken seriously. It was only the following day that the Congress spokesman denied the report.

Regardless of what appeared in the newspapers, it would be naïve to presume that Mr. Gandhi, who had been general secretary of his party since 1982, was not aware of what his partymen could be doing during the five days of anti-Sikh violence. Mr Gandhi was even instrumental in training party workers at various camps held for the purpose during his tenure as the party’s general secretary. What kind of political training did he give them that the Congress workers turned out to be so thirsty for the blood of Sikhs?


On the day of assassination of Mrs. Gandhi, the Indian newspapers said that she had been shot by three Sikh security guards, one of whom was a cut Sikh.(this is a popular way of describing Sikhs who do not wear long hair or turban).

The newspapers did not say whether this information had been provided by official or unofficial sources. Nor was it clear how the reports surmised that even the cut Sikh was indeed a Sikh. The next day, however, he was not mentioned in the reports. The moot question here is, should the newspapers have identified the assassins by their religion? Had the killers been Hindus, would the media have used the same criterion, that is religion, to describe them? Whether deliberately or inadvertently (even inadvertent biases of this kind are not to be forgiven), the media played a role in generating hostility against the Sikhs as community. In doing so, the media violated the guidelines set by the Press Institute of India (PIA) 1970 report. The guidelines underline that in a situation with the potential of communal conflict, it is advisable to tread cautiously in news reporting.

Besides, Doordarshan’s repeated focus on the mobs crying for revenge in its film footage on the assassination definitely gave encouragement to the violence that followed. Some newspapers, instead of reporting the sincere efforts being made by some sensitive and concerned citizens against the violence through peace marches, were merely highlighting the names of the political leaders participating in these processions. For instance, a peace procession in which Janata Party leader Chandrashekhar participated was dubbed as his party’s demonstration with the result that a lot of eminent citizens, who were apolitical, felt offended at being aligned with a party rather than with the cause for which they were fighting . Such reports also deterred genuine sympathisers from participating in programmes aimed at restoring peace.

The role of the political Opposition also calls for a special mention. Although all the major political parties were getting reports about the large-scale and vicious killings, none of them could organise any mass protest against it, neither to prevent the violence nor to control it. This is the minimum basic that the cadre-based left parties and the BJP could have done. Their role however, was limited to making a joint appeal to the prime minister to restore peace.

On November 3, a group of eminent citizens requested that Mr. Chandrashekhar to accompany them to meet the prime minister but he refused to do so saying, it would be "inappropriate" and "ill-timed."


The anti-Sikh violence in the aftermath of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination was definitely the result of a well-planned conspiracy which had the active participation of members of the ruling party, the government, the administration and the police force. However the role of the common man also calls for a close study.

The violence cannot be entirely dissociated from the general animus against the Sikh community as a result of the systematic anti-Sikh propaganda about the political turmoil in Punjab in the preceding three years, which saw the rise of Sikh militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala and the demolition of the Akal Takht in an army operation ordered by Mrs. Gandhi (Operation Bluestar in June 1984).

The central government, by ignoring the genuine demands of Punjab political leaders gave a fillip to Sikh militancy and, Hindu communalism as reaction to it. By attacking the Akal Takht, the centre also isolated a very strong section of the Sikh political and religious leadership which only gave rise to further communalism. By the time of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination, it was apparent that the mass Hindu psyche had reached a stage where it could condone the anti-Sikh violence in the name of ‘national interest’.

The violence was the result of the official policy to "teach the Sikhs of Punjab a Lesson" and, policies like this are not something for which one can furnish hard facts as proof. However, proof is manifest in the mass media and the mass mind. The long reign of militancy in Punjab, against which an ordinary Sikh was as helpless as any other citizen, a fact not often recognised, fuelled mass antipathy towards the community.

Although many Hindu neighbours played a salutary role in saving the lives and property of Sikhs, a majority of the population played an implicit role in the violence. Many survivors complain that their Hindu neighbours watched the violence as though they were watching a film show. It is this mass psychology of the Hindus which prompted them to believe all the rumours about the Sikh community during the carnage including that train-loads of Hindu dead bodies were arriving from Punjab and that the Sikhs were going to strike back after the first day of violence.

The evidence of vicious communal feelings against Sikhs in the Delhi police force has been given in the preceding paras and chapters.

However, this should not distract us from appreciating the role of Hindus and Muslims who saved Sikhs at a grave risk to their own lives. There are many unsung heroes who do not find a mention in the list of names given at the end of the book but Sikhs owe them a deep gratitude.

Email : bureau@burningpunjab.com