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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Mr. Tytler went on shouting at Mr. Tondon at which a reporter asked him to tell Mr. Tytler not to disturb the press conference. Mr. Tytler snapped at him, "this is more important." Then the reporter invited Mr. Tytler to attend the press conference and face some questions regarding his involvement in the in the carnage. Mr. Tytler went red in the face but sat there all the same. " you are obstructing the relief work (for the survivors) by keeping my men in custody", Mr. Tytler the Commissioner. This incident silenced the Commissioner effectively against any further questions about the Congress party’s involvement in the violence.

 Rahul Kuldip Bedi, Reporter, Indian Express

Following is a letter of complaint Mr. Bedi sent to the Lt. Governor of Delhi and the Police Chief, Delhi on November 5, 1984.

 Dear Sir,

 I am sending a complaint against three top officials of Delhi Police who, because of their criminal dereliction of duty, became instruments of a grotesque and unprecedented massacre in the history of free India.

Dear Sir,

This is with reference to the meeting I had with you in the police Headquarters on November 4. Here is a formal complaint against the following Police officers: S C Jatav, IPS, Additional Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar and Seva Das, Deputy Police Commissioner. They should be booked for criminal negligence and grave dereliction of duty, because of which 350 people were killed in 30 hours in Trilokpuri. The massacre continued till the evening of November 2. You have already assured an investigation into the matter.

On November 2, at 2.00 p.m. I Set out for Trilokpuri alongwith my colleague at the Indian Express, Mr. Joseph Malliakan, after hearing about mass violence in the area. About 500 meters ahead of Block 32 of Trilokpuri, we met with a police officer and constable on a motorbike. They too were heading towards Block 32.

We stopped them and asked them as to what was happening in Block 32.  They said, the situation was under control and that only two people  had been killed.

2.       An angry crowd stopped our vehicle (a car) as we moved close to the Block. The crowd stoned our car, told us that nobody would be allowed to go to Block 32 and that if we dared to do so, we would have to face the consequences.

3.      We went to Kalyanpuri police station (under which falls Trilokpuri). It was at 3.30 p.m. when we reached there and told a sub-inspector on duty to help us reach Block 32. He quoted the patrol cops as reporting the situation under control. Besides, the station could not spare cops to accompany us, we were told.

4. Then we went to the police headquarters at 5 p.m. We informed Mr. Nikhil Kumar, who was on the phone at his office. He talked to the central control room two floors above his office. Other than this, Mr. Nikhil Kumar gave no assurance about sending the police to the area. He asked the control room to inform the man on duty in the area.

5. We reached Trilokpuri at 6.05 p.m.  where we saw SHO Shoorvir Singh alongwith two constables in a matador. The SHO said that he had apprised his senior, especially, DCP Seva Das, over the wireless about the situation. But the DCP failed to turn up on the scene even until 7 p.m.

6. We came back to the police headquarters and were told by Mr. Nikhil Kumar that he had done his duty by informing the central control room  and that his job was over with that. Meanwhile, Mr. Jatav, who had been on patrol duty in the area under Kalyanpuri police station (including Trilokpuri), came back to his office and said there was "peace" in the area. He said that his DCP Seva Das had also told him the same thing.

When we insisted that the situation required immediate steps to control it,  Mr. Jatav asked Mr. Nikhil Kumar to explain why he had not informed him about the gravity of the situation while talking to the control room. Mr. Nikhil Kumar had no answer and his refrain was that he had informed the control room.

Mr. Jatav visited the scene of violence 30 hours after we informed the police, precisely, at 7.45 p.m. on November 2. The massacre stated at 10 a.m. on November 1.

We hope that you would take appropriate action against these police officers because they are a party to the crimes that led to the bloody killings.

(Mr. Subhas Tondon received this complaint on November 5, 1984.)

Mr. Kamini Jaiswal. Advocate, Supreme court of India : On November 2, we met Mr. Padam Sharma (who introduced himself as the chief of Delhi State Congress Committee) at the Pandav Nagar Gurudwara. He tried to send us back on the plea that "there was no trouble" around there and that "the situation was under control." But, we have already been to the Gurudwara the previous day and wanted to meet the people hiding in the Gurudwara. So, we insisted on going there. Inside, we met many people whose families were trapped in Dakshin Nagar across the road. They were pleading with us to reach help to their relatives. We promised to rescue them but the same people who had brought us to the Gurudwara got agitated and stoned our car. The mob also wielded iron sticks at us.

The mob said that we were disturbing the place by trying to guard the Gurudwara and that our interference would not be tolerated. It was Mr. Padam Sharma who led this mob. Later, somebody told us that Mr. Sharma did not like other people " treading on his territory."


Wednesday, October 31, 1984. Official Press Release

The police has been asked to patrol the city and section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been imposed. Three companies of Delhi Armed Police have been asked to patrol the city.

 These orders will stand until further notice.

November 1, 1984 (Indian Express)

 Five police officials, like the rest of the citizens, could get no help from the police. Police was to be seen nowhere in the city. Helpless calls to the police control room number (100) either went unheard or the callers had to make do with parroted reply, " the police cannot do anything to help in the situation."

November 2, 1984 (Indian Express)

The government on Wednesday ordered the army and the BSF to take control of the capital but they were nowhere to be seen. Said a duty officers in Nizamuddin police station, " I have been trying to contact the CRPF and BSF every ten minutes over the phone but have been repeatedly told that nothing can be done."

November 2, 1984 (Indian Express)

Officials of the home ministry and PMO met here late on Wednesday night to discuss ways to stop the spread of violence in the wake of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination.

November 1, 1984 (Times of India)

The army was called into the Capital after 60 people died and another 1,000 injured in communal violence followings Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. Barring the new Delhi District, curfew has been imposed in the entire city for an indefinite period. Shoot-at-sight orders were also issued on Wednesday evening.

November 2, 1984 (Indian Express quoting PTI)

 Top officials of the law-enforcing machinery were given no clear directions to deal with the situation and the police remained a mute spectator to the violence………Although the situation had gone out of control, the Lt. Governor failed to alert the army until Wednesday. It took him 24 hours to impose curfew and to call in the army.

November 4, 1984 (Indian Express, Dev Sagar Singh)

Local leaders in many areas were warning people over mikes not to drink that water supplied by the Municipal corporation.

November 3, 1984 (Statesman)

Making mockery of statistics, police Commissioner Subhash Tondon today said (Nov 2) that " 15 to 20 people have been killed in the city." Lt. Governor PG Gavai added that the situation is "under control." The army personnel pressed into service following an order on Thursday, were just a symbolic presence. Reinforcements were sent in only on Friday and Saturday until when violence continued.

November 3 (Indian Express)

On Friday, violence took place on a massive scale in the city, perhaps the bloodiest day in its history. Hundreds were killed. Not even a head-count was available. Entire colonies were wiped out. In east Delhi alone, 500 people were killed. In this senseless massacre, east Delhi was the worst affected, almost dyed in blood. There were 200 corpses in the mortuary attached to the Tis Hazari police station alone.

There were 350 corpses in a single street of Trilokpuri. A couple of army officers were spotted at the place but they had no control over the all-out violence nor orders to shoot.

November 3, 1984 (Indian Express)

The police condemned the role of political leaders. A spokesman alleged that when the police tried to stop the violence, they were snubbed by Metropolitan Councillors who were egging on the mobs to violence. Police officials had no clue as to that Mr. Kamal Nath was doing in Rakabganj. Besides, the police said that it had no clear orders to deal with the situation. According to a source, " the top police officials just inquired repeatedly about the situation over wireless but not once did they advise any steps to control the situation."

November 3, 1984 (Statesman)

Curfew imposed on November 1, has been relaxed in five out of the six districts of Delhi. The fresh order will see curfew relaxation from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

November 4, 1984 (Times of India)

Most part of Delhi had the army to take care of law and order but it became fully operational only when 3,000 army personnel, reserved as an escort force for Mrs. Gandhi’s funeral procession, were put on security duty in the city.

November 4, 1984 (Telegraph)

Executive Magistrates have been given powers to give shoot-at-orders, if necessary.

November 4, 1984 (Economic Times)

Police Commissioner SC Tondon has ordered an enquiry into the violence in Mongolpuri, where a large number of people were killed. A Deputy Police Commissioner (DPC) will head the enquiry and, according to Mr. Tondon, the survivors allegation about violence here having been organised and pre-planned would also be investigated.

November 4, 1984 (Times of India)

Armed mobs were prowling the streets of Mongolpuri. The Statesman correspondent saw people carrying a dead child. On the pavement of the main road to the colony, a dead body was burning. Although one end of the colony has the Delhi Police on duty apparently, nobody dared enter the colony. The Correspondent was smoke billowing out of a shop being burnt and looted in Bhogal on Saturday evening but the police and the army personnel denied that there was any trouble in the area.

Representatives of both the communities in Bhogal said that they had never faced any communal trouble before and believe that the killer mobs included people from the neighbouring areas. It is learnt that two junior police officials prompted the mob to violence.

November 5 (Economic Times quoting PTI)

In his first press briefing after taking over as Lt. Governor, Mr Wali said, "no step would be too harsh to stop the violence". He said, 1809 people had been arrested in connection with the violence.

November 5 (Times of India)

The Central District (Delhi) police have arrested 300 people suspected to be in possession of the loot during the violence but local leaders of the Congress (I) went to the police station to protest against this. Mr. Dharam Das Shastri said, "the police is free to recover the loot but it has no right to arrest them because they are not criminals.

November 6 (Indian Express)

Seven relief camps in trans-Yamuna were filled with 25,000 Sikhs on Monday morning. The administration has yet to set up any relief camp and the ones already established are being run by voluntary organisations

November 6 (Indian Express)

 A total 2517 people have been arrested but Mr. Wali could not tell how many of them have been released on bail. However, he said, that in some cases every citizen has the right to parole. He denied that he was under political pressure to recover the loot during the violence.

November 7 (Statesman)

At a press conference, Mr. Wali said that the government has drawn a rehabilitation plan for the victims families although the monetary compensation being given is only a token. He added, however, that even with this token money the survivors could build new houses because most of the damaged houses are in the urban rehabilitation colonies.

November 7 (India Express)

 Several police officials say that relief work is being hampered by political interference. A Congress MP intruded into the press conference of the Police Chief and shouted at him, "you will do as I say."

November 7 (Statesman)

 There was no sign of any relief work being carried out by the administration until late on Tuesday night in the Tilak Nagar Gurudwara. A thousand people have taken shelter here from Uttam Nagar, Nangloi, Najafgarh, Govindpuri and Mongolpuri. The sanitary facilities here are as bad as in the rest of the camps.


Just try remembering this. The pain you feel when a drop of hot oil from a cooking pan falls on you. Just a tiny drop. Remember your pain and then, theirs. Sikhs, who were burnt alive. Now imaging the following scene. The half-hurt victims are begging for mercy. Crying and writhing in pain. And a group of human beings arround them is responding to their cries with loud cheer, savage and Satanic dance of joy. Most of us cannot even imagine such a situation in a civilised world. But, in the first week of November, 1984, violent mobs in Delhi, by dancing over the bodies of thousands of Sikhs as they were being devoured alive by fire, not only set new standards of violence but also a new bench-mark for our collective capacity to tolerate human savagery. For five long days, death danced in the streets 0f the Indian Capital and many other cities. It moved nobody. It seems that there were no human beings in this vast nation for five long days - not those who were killing, not those who were being killed, not those who were watching it all. Every body had transformed into some weird in-human entity that does not feel, know, see or hear any pain. Numb in mind and body. Frozen flesh and blood.

 Why did it happen? Was it our latent cruelty and violence waiting to be aroused? Did a dormant demonic force suddenly come to the fore? Could anybody every have imagined the strong currents of hatred against the Sikh community in India until that November? Coule such savagery go on and on for five long days right under the nose of the Indian government? Where did our great traditions of secularism, non-violence, tolerance and compassion vanish during those death-filled days? The more we reflect over these questions, the more we shall be serving ourselves as evolved humans and, thereby, the society in which we live. Forgetting those days and the numerous questions that stare us in the face like stars in the nights sky, would deaden us further. To forget those events would be to prepare ourselves for more of the same. Because, "those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it."

What happened in November, 1984, was not riots. It was a massacre. Of Sikhs. To call it the massacre of innocents would be to justify violence against the guilty. No human being, innocent or guilty, deserves violence.

Every communal riot has a plan preceding it which, perhaps, is the only common factor between the numerous communal riots in India and the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in November, 1984. The genocide was planned and organised, better than any in the history of pre or post-partition India. Rumours were systematically spread. Criminal gangs were waiting in the wings. Congress (I) leaders were ready with their plot. Communal elements were just waiting for a signal from them. The conspirators and executors of the mass violence included members of the ruling party, the police and the administration.

The violence was absolutely one-sided. The attacks were a total surprise. The victims had no clue to the fate that awaited them. They had nothing to defend themselves with. The killers came prepared. With improvised weapons. Traditional weapons, had they been used, would have been a mercy.

 The police, the bureaucracy and the government did nothing. For five long days, they just watched. Some ordinary folk did more to help the situation than them. So, what conclusion can we draw from all these factors? There is only one reasonable conclusion that we are allowed. The massacre of Sikhs was pre-planned and members of the government, right from the very top to the bottom, were involved in it.

 The political angle to the massacre is nearly pronounced as the communal angle. Sikh had to be "taught a lesson" for the assassination of a Congress leader and prime minister. Similar lessons had been taught to many who dared raise their voice against Mrs. Gandhi’s dictatorial methods in Assam and the entire north-east region. But, nowhere was the ruling party directly involved in the job of "teaching a lesson" to socio-political delinquents.

 The anti-Sikh violence was different. The ruling party took it upon itself to teach the Sikhs a lesson. The events of November, 1984 have, in fact, opened a new chapter (even political illiterates can read it) which shows the stranglehold of criminal and communal forces on the government, the administration and the police.

 The Congress party, in the post-Nehru period, has had no qualms about inciting communal violence to suit its political interests. But, in November, 1984 the party beat all its previous records. In the face of its vicious role in the Sikh killings, is it not outrageous that the Congress party should be going to town about its, " secular" character ? It can be argued that the BJP, the Akali Dal and the Indian Union Muslims League are communal parties because they garner votes in the name of religion but the Congress, without doubt, is the deadliest face of communalism in India.




A group of artists in Lucknow are taking out a procession of peace marchers for communal harmony. One of the organisers of the march has been worrying since yesterday. His anxiety is to ensure that AIR and Doordarshan give good coverage to the procession. The organisers are personally very perturbed over the events of the past few days. The first blood was drawn by Sikhs they say. Who asked them to distribute sweets?

Despite such thoughts, they are marching for peace and communal harmony.


Sikhs distributed sweets at Mrs. Gandhi’s killing. I have been hearing such talk and am looking for an eye witness to vouch for such incidents. I mention this to Kunwar Narayan. He knows somebody who saw Sikh celebrating and is expected to come to his house today.

 Luckily, I do not have to wait long for him. We are introduced. I start asking him questions. The secret is soon out. He is an eye-witness who heard the story from his uncle. I met many such eye-witnesses.

 This was the rumour that even the most neutral and thinking people believed. This was the rumour that led the mobs to burn Sikh infants alive.


Prof. Satyamurti was to attend a rehearsal of a play directed by him. But the news of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination had already come. So, to spare the actors the inconvenience of coming out he postponed the rehearsal to November 4. Prof. Satyamurti must have intuitively known about the violence that followed.

Rakesh Verma, a singing artists, employed in the Life insurance company (LIC) whose office is on Kanpur’s Mall Road told me that at 2.30 p.m. he saw a group of people pounce on a Sikh, about to alight his two-wheeler. The middle aged Sikh was badly beaten up right under the gaze of two armed cops. Meanwhile, a police vehicle reached the spot and a gun-wielding cop ran towards the mob. He rescued the Sikh and sent him home alongwith an armed policeman.

There were three more Sikhs in the LIC office. Some people suggested that they cut their hair but somebody requested the police to come and the three were escorted back home. Perhaps, they survived. By the time the offices closed, Mr. Verma saw a mob of 150-200 goodness and political workers passing through the market, raising slogans.


The morning air is thick with rumours. Prof. Satyamurti’s colleagues at the college, his driver and a domestic help, all have different stories to tell. But all the tales focus on how the Sikhs have been murdering people at various places.

At 10 a.m. I come out to get a packet of cigarettes. There is an eerie silence as I get out of the house. But soon the Silence is broken. At the street corner is a group of people, professional hangers-on. The signboard of an electric goods shop has been smashed but the locks are still intact. On the platform outside the shop, two cops are relaxing. Bang opposite them is the shop of a Sikh photographer. The windows and door of that shop have been smashed.

Just then, a group of young men passes by each of them holding boxes of new shoes, looted from a shop. The young men are excited about the loot.

One of the cops outside the electric goods shop gets ‘ tough’ and, wielding his stick at one guy, tells him to surrender the shoes. The young man places two pairs before the cop. The cop tries them both but neither fits his feet. He sends him away, abusing him light-heartedly and yells at another to show him what he has got.

Of course, these young men and the cops are mourning the death of Mrs. Gandhi.

 I turn to the left of the street. There is no cigarette shop there but cigarette packets are available at a premium. At double the normal price. I decide to go to Vijay’s house for tea. On the way, another brush with violence. A bonfire right in the middle of the road. Closely, a mob is trying to break through an iron gate. Vijay’s wife says that a wood godown had been set afire by the mob. The neighbours doused the fire, not to save the godown but their own shops. Outsides, I see the mob, which was earlier trying to break into the godown, move towards the other side and jump inside from a half broken wall. One man walks out with a saw and wood cutting blade. Another comes out with a couple of small woodlogs. The logs are too heavy to carry. So, he drops them, drags them towards his bicycle, ties them up to the back seat and cycles away with the ease of a shopper.

The rest of the crowd is busy trying to make sure that nothing remains unbent in what they have dragged out of the godown to make a bon-fire in the middle of the road.

Barely 150 yards away from the spot is a police post. Not one, but two. There are several cops there but absolutely relaxed.

Bang opposite the police post is the office of AIR. Reporters inside are extremely busy, trying to contact the official spokesman about the situation in the city. Besides, they know their first responsibility. To carry government announcements in their bulletins in this hour of national crisis following Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. The administration does not need them. Not yet. Not until after the killers have had their fill of violence.

At 2 p.m. I leave Vijay’s house and see the fire lit in the morning. The flames are going higher and higher. The fire died thirty hours later. On its own.

Meanwhile, a police vehicle passes by and announces the imposition of curfew in the city. Nobody takes a second look at a man walking out of the godown with his loot.

I return home. See another fire. The cops are still relaxing outside the electric goods shop. The shop is intact but a car belonging to the shop-owner has been dragged out of the garage and set aflame.

Some others are telling the crowd, "tonight we must burn the photographer’s shop."

Doordarshan comers are still focused on Teen Murti House. Delhi is burning. Kanpur is burning but that is not news for Doordarshan. News, as it sees, is all in teen Murti house.

The neighbourhood of Prof. Satyamurti’s house is full of talk , venomous talk against the Sikhs. "Each one of them is guilty". "Each one of them is happy at the assassination." A boy comes to his house and says he saw Sikhs distributing sweets. "Did you see it?" I ask. " Everybody has seen it," the boy answers.

 "Don’t tell me about everybody, tell me, If you have seen it," I persist.

 "No, but a man I know told me so," replies the boy.

 At night I go to the terrace. The whole city seems aflame. I can barely see the sky.


 The street is noisy early morning. I arm on the terrace. The same young men, who were agitated about Sikhs celebrating the killing of Mrs. Gandhi the previous day, are playing cricket. The sun is getting high. There is curfew in the city and there are reports of the army having come to control the situation.

The violence continues despite the army. People are standing in groups everywhere. The photographer’s shop is being looted merrily. A policeman on the scene is telling the crowd not indulge in violence.

 "You return us our Indira Gandhi, we will stop looting the shop," comes a voice from the crowd. The cop is silenced by the reply and goes back to where he was sitting. After a while, the crowd of young men leaves the place, wailing with joy. Some mourning this.

Vegetables are beautifully arranged in a basket by a seller. One guy has opened his shop just enough for cigarettes and tobacco to change hands with those desperate for them. He is still giving Mainpuri Tobacco at the regular price, one rupee, that is. Down the road in a square, parts of a nearby building set aflame are burning. The building’s ground floor had a sweets shop belonging to a Sikh. The shop is suitably emptied before being burnt down. The crowd is mourning Mrs. Gandhi’s killing.

Further on, there is a bigger and more festive crowd on the wide road.

Full of people. The door of the liquor shop has been smashed and bottles are now available outside the shop. Beer, Rum all for a flat price of eight rupees. You can even drink standing right there. Nobody will check you.

Suddenly, there is a commotion in the crowd which has been diligently stoning a house. We all step back. But this is the softest part of the violence.

I should have not have built such a long story around what I wanted to say. Perhaps, what I want to describe is beyond the boundaries of language. Any language. Let me say it straight and simple. Have you ever seen a man burning alive?

The Sikh has been battered. He looks like moving pulp lying on the ground. Soaked in blood. He is not crying. He is not writhing. Just his hands are trying to hold on to the something in the air. The crowd moves back, yelling with joy. It leaves him alone for a while. Two young men have balloons filled with petrol. They throw the balloons on another Sikh. The balloons burst after hitting the Sikh’s head. Then, the crowd throws a match. The man slips as he tries to run, the road having turned into thin ice under his feet. Now he is burning alive.

In Kanpur, this skilled, fool-proof way of burning Sikhs was uniformly employed.

In the evening, journalists from a local newspaper come. They are very upset with the Sikh community. They have brought a "true story". The Sikh who was burnt had shot at the crowd from the terrace of his house. He was at fault. The crowd which converged on his house to loot and burn was right.

In the street of mourners, a voice from the group playing cricket, yells, "switch on the TV".

I hear that the mob put a burning chemical in the rectum of buffaloes belonging to a Sikh milk-seller. He lived a street behind us. Isn’t there a limit to mourning!

Another incident. There was shooting from inside a Gurudwara. So, it was burnt. But, what was crowd doing outside the Gurudwara?

 The night is even more horrific. A group of the army walked through the street. It showed its presence for six minutes. There is total silence in the street. It will stay silent for the next six hours. At this hour, people have even stopped peeping from their windows and balconies.

 Until late in the night I get no sleep. When it comes, it brings along horrible images. Past midnight, I hear a cry. The cry becomes louder. Lots of people are gathered. They are appealing to us to stay awake. "jagte raho," "jagte raho".

 This is a strange cry. Over the loud-speaker. Sikhs are being murdered all around. To be a Sikh and out on the street is an invitation to death. And here is a public announcement system blaring messages. "Sikhs have attacked the Kaka Dev Bus Stop. Everybody, reach Gita Nagar." Another voice from Gita Nagar, again over the mike. "I cannot contact Sapera; you tell me what to do." The Kaka Dev voice, "tell everybody to go to their terraces with stones and bricks."

The best part of these midnight announcements is that a police patrol vehicle is right in Kaka Dev, also listening to the them. Of course, the administration had no clue to the horrific happenings. The District Magistrate of Kanpur, Brijendra Yadav, mute witness to the killings and arson, is the same man under whose administration in Muradabad, terrible communal riots had taken place.

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s grand-children try to contact the police all day on November 2, but nobody picks up the phone.


 The air has changed somewhat. The police and army have marched through the city.

The mourners want to have their fill of cricket until the next march. A catch brings loud cheer from the crowd. Today is the fourth day they are mourning Mrs. Gandhi’s killing.

The killing and arson have stopped and the police has been raiding some houses to recover the loot.

 The woman who washes dishes at Prof. Satyamurti’s house has come.

She is very agitated. " Kare koi, bhare koi. Police sub ko pareshan kare hai (somebody commits a crime and somebody else has to pay for it; the police are harassing us all)" "arre you tell me, if you do not have enough food in your house, how can you wear shoes that cost 200 rupees? There is no electric connection in the house and they have a TV and fringe already", she is talking about her neighbours.

This is another unwritten rule in our country. A man cannot wear good shoes until he has good clothes and a good house.

The cops will come and take away the fringe and TV that her neighbours have got.

Those who have got the TV and fringe are selling both for 500 rupees each, she informs us.

Sitting indoors, I am bored. Prof. Satyamurti and I decide to go out. His wife tells him not to but he doesn’t listen to her.

The news we get today is interesting. A sackful of liquor bottles sold for just a hundred rupees but, even more interesting is the news that the policemen who had gone with food packets for three rupees each to the Cantonment relief camp came back with the packets. The reason. The people in the camp did not have any money to buy food with.

According to official estimates, 50 Sikhs were killed in the violence and goods and property worth 50 lakh rupees looted. Another estimate puts the monetary loss at four crore rupees.

At a deserted spot behind a wall, a group of people is trying to bury some ‘shining’ thing.

A group of under-nutritioned men in khaki, the Home Guard men, are passing that way. Their heads are bent. They can see nothing, not us, not the crowd that is burying ‘something’.


Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao was among the privileged three who were installed as union ministers in Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet along with him as prime minister. The reason why he was given home ministry, the second most important portfolio in the union cabinet, was his vast political experienced, both in party and government affairs. The law and order situation went out of control immediately in the wake of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. This is something that was obvious to anyone who passed by AIIMS, where she was taken after being shot. The shape of things to come was clear to anybody who cared to see when Sikhs began to be attacked  outside AIIMS on the very evening of her assassination.

Presumably, a mini union cabinet was installed by the prime minister to deal with the aftermath of the killing. Why did Mr Rao not call the army that day itself? Why did he not nip the violence in the bud? It is not as though Mr Rao was unaware of the ground situation. His inaction is criminal enough but to presume that he was ignorant about the violence would be to make a mockery of the very institution of governance.

However, even presuming that Mr. Rao was too busy and removed form the situation on the ground and presuming that the entire law and order machinery under him (the Delhi police is part of it) was also unaware of the goings-on, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and another eminent member of parliament informed Mr.Rao about the happenings within hours. They expressed their concern about the situation and asked him to act upon it. Mr. Rao’s reply to all of them was that the " situation is under control". Of course, the opposition leaders at that time had no clue as to what he meant by that and it is only later that everybody realised the meaning. The situation was under the control of Congress (I) killers.

 Late night on October 31, Mr Rao discussed that law and order scene in the Capital elsewhere in the country with top officials of his ministry but no step to contain the violence was taken as a follow-up.

On November 1, at 5 p.m. , a senior opposition parliamentarian informed Mr.Rao about the need to call the army. At night, when the whole of Delhi was burning, a delegation of the opposition leaders met him and apprised him the situation, emphasising the need to call the army. Mr. Rao’s response was an assurance that curfew will be imposed and army will be called.

On November 2, some opposition leaders again approached the home minister to provide security to Sikh train passengers because, by then, the reports of anti-Sikh violence in trains passing through Delhi had started coming. Mr Rao did nothing. The result was the butchering of Sikh in trains and on railway platforms.

The same night, when some MPs tried to contact Mr Rao again, he made himself unavailable.

It is evident from all these facts that Mr. Rao had no intention to contain the situation. On the other hand, he seems to have deliberately allowed the violence to go on and on, thus becoming the master of ceremonies in the conspiracy to "exterminate Sikhs."

It is Mr. Rao people like him, in the higher echelons of power, who were responsible for the genocide of Sikhs, right from the planning to the execution state.

Pick up any part of Delhi and any Congress (I) state, the pattern of violence was the same, which underlines the skill and attention to detail behind it. More than that, the organisation of such well-timed and large-scale violence could not have been possible without the direct involvement of the political powers that be. Mr Rao was among the few such powerful people at whom one can point an accusing finger without the risk of contradiction. But, he was not alone. He could not have been alone. His misfortune is that he was the visible face of the forces who hatched and executed the anti-Sikh plot.

In the preceding chapters, there are many pointers to the direct and indirect involvement of the political big-wigs. Here are a few more:

The signboards on the Sikh-owned shops and factories were not graphic; they were written, in Hindi and English. The mobs who attacked them were not only poor but also unlettered. They were not from the same areas. So, who identified these establishment as targets of violence?

The mobs were led by well-known Congress I leaders and workers. The state-owned, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were used to transport mobs from one place to another. With whose sanction?

The then home secretary, the senior most bureaucrat in the home ministry, Mr. M K Wali, who had just presided over the killings of thousands of Sikhs, was given the responsibility of supervising the relief work, among other duties as Delhi’s Lt. Governor replacing Mr P G Gavai. It is difficult to figure out who, between the two of them, was being rewarded, or, was it punishment? There is no way to tell.

On November 2, when the anti-Sikh violence was at its peak, Mr Gavai told journalists that " the situation is under control."

So, from Mr Rao to the home secretary to the Lt. Governor down to the police chief, the response to the unprecedented violence was uniform. If that is not indication enough of the organised way in which the killing were carried out, nothing else could be it.


Mrs. Gandhi had been assassinated. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, had not yet become prime minister. He had just alighted from an aircraft which brought him from Calcutta to Delhi. At the airport a group of party loyalists was waiting to condole him. Rajiv Gandhi’s first words to them were: " Go and grieve in your home town instead of hanging around in Delhi".

As prime minister, among the first few lines he spoke at a public rally about the events after the assassination of his mother, was that infamous quote which pierced the heart of every right-thinking and sensitive citizen in the country. "when a great tree falls the earth shakes." For this one remark alone he should have been tried in a court of law, to say the least. The statement was like a fresh assault on the community. It inflicted new wounds which will, perhaps, never heal.

In a press conference, Rajiv Gandhi excelled himself, when he said, the "Sikhs would be the worst losers in an inquiry into the massacre".

These are pointers enough to the fact that Mr. Gandhi was the master-mind behind the anti-Sikh conspiracy. But he was not alone. He had his henchmen, including, H K L Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Bhajan Lal (the chief minister of Haryana) and Arun Nehru. It was under Bhajan Lal’s supervision that men and weapons were transported from the villages to the city and from the state to Delhi for the anti-Sikh violence.

Look at what the organisers of this massacre did to Sikhs in the police force of Delhi. Sikhs were disarmed and asked to hide like rat either in their homes or their offices while the rest of the police force was asked to "take control of the situation." No force should be used, however, they were told.

Of course, like professional criminals, the organisers gave no orders in writing. For ones, the entire state machinery worked on spoken orders and directions. What a superb display of efficiency in a country whose red tape is a national bane!

After they had their fill, the ruling party vultures went around boasting about how they had countered the threat to national unity. "But for the Congress, the events in the aftermath of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination would have broken the country," croaked many of them.

Many Hindus were harmed, physically and materially, because they had dared to be human and had helped the Sikhs in that tragic hour. Many Sikhs owe their lives to the courage and humanity shown by their Hindu friends and neighbours. I Kalyanpuri, many Sikh families were saved by their Hindu friends and neighbours. In Khichripur, people from the neighbourhood of Sikh houses succeeded in chasing away the mob. Many children of Sikhs were given shelter by their Hindu neighbours. The stories of their courage and humanity all merit special attention. Even in Trilokpuri, the worst-affected by the violence, 70 percent of those rescued when the army came to their help, had been hiding in the houses of their Hindu friends and neighbours. This information came from a Sikh army officer. Not to forget what the Delhi University and JNU teachers did to counter the anti-Sikh violence. They formed all-night vigil squads from among the neighbourhood to keep away the violent mobs in their area.

A total of one lakh Sikhs had to take shelter in 30 relief camps in the post violence period and thousands are still waiting to be rehabilitated, fourteen years and five governments later.

Five thousand Sikhs perished in the violence although the official figures do not admit to more than 2733 killings. That is because the government does not recognise the missing Sikhs as dead. Notice the attention to detail! This was the kind of attention given to plotting and executing crimes as well.

Email : bureau@burningpunjab.com