"Thanks to Hollywood movies, I have no fear of guns." This remark, made by a Hollywod actor has an undercurrent of irony which marks our systematic desensitisation to violence. But ask any Sikh survivor of the bloody massacre, he or she, given a choice, would have settled for ‘mercy-killing’ by bullets and bombs. Not only because they are modern weapons but also because of the quick death they bring and because they are not "scary’.
When modern weapons are freely available in the arms bazaar, when killing just takes a push button, is it not strange that Sikhs should have been killed with all kinds of improvised weapon? Executed through sophisticated weapons, the killings would have been less taxing for the killers too. So, why were they not given these weapons by those who plotted the violence? Why were the killers armed with kerosene, petrol, match boxes, deadly chemicals, iron rods, sticks and other petty weapons? Not just in Delhi. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana. Why did the carnage start all at once in places divided by thousands of miles? Why did the police in every state affected by violence, take a uniform stand? Why were the police control rooms in all the cities either abandoned or not functional? Considering the gravity of the situation, even without the anti-Sikh violence, there should have been police reinforcements in every place.
There is only one answer to all these questions. The gory violence was organised and organised in a way that would make it difficult to trace the killers. A stick, an iron rod, kerosene and petrol-these are things of petty use and anybody can have them and, if somebody decides to use them for killing, there is no way to prove the crime. And, not for a moment should we believe that the blood-thirsty mobs, who devoured thousands of Sikhs, had the intelligence not to choose weapons which could make them accountable for the crimes. This, like the improvised weapons provided by the state-controlled ration shops, was the gift of those who organised the massacre.
Look at the role played by the state-controlled (and the most powerful) electronic media. Throughout the days of violence, its focus was either on the mourners in and around Teen murti house or on the funeral arrangements. Even in that, it repeatedly showed footage of blood-thirsty mobs shouting, "khoon ka badla khoon (seek blood for blood). " Other parts of the Indian media had already done their job by harping on the religious identity of the assassins. The killer mobs, who were other wise illiterate, however, had no difficulty in putting two and two together in this case and quickly picked up the signal about whose "khoon" was needed to avenge the killing of Mrs. Gandhi. This is another very strong pointer to the belief that the massacre was organised by the powers that be.
There are many more indicators but among the most glaring is the fact that Sikhs in the security forces were systematically disarmed soon after the assassination.
The conspiracy theory gets its biggest boost from the fact that the assassins, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, who surrendered their weapons almost immediately after shooting Mrs. Gandhi, were taken to a room and shot at by the ITBP commandos in the prime minister’s security. Who gave them the orders to shoot at point blank range the disarmed assassins (who, by no accounts, were resisting arrest)? Who is it who wanted evidence behind the assassination plot wiped out immediately and desperately? Could it be the same people who plotted the subsequent violence?
Look at the evidence after the violence stopped. The same people who had organised, plotted and executed the violence now switched floors to the peace camp. Many processions paying lip service to the cause of Hindu-Sikh unity were organised by the same people.
PRECIOUS PROOF OF THE CRIMES IS VANISHING
As stated in earlier chapters, because of the highly professional nature of the massacre, it is very hard to prove the identity of the criminals, both who were on and off the scene. The only eye-witnesses, who are holding on to the memory of what and who they saw executing those crimes, are, the immediate families of the victims. Fourteen years later, perhaps, there is a question mark even on that. Not only because memory can fade with time and pain but also because some of the eye-witnesses may be too traumatised to come out with everything that happened to them. For instance, hundreds of young girls and women were gang-raped but none has even spoken about it. Rape, despite the rate at which it takes place in India and despite no rapist in the country having ever got more than two years behind bars, is, officially, still considered a crime. Besides, some eye-witnesses were very young at the time and their memory is lost in the cycle of time.
Life expectancy in India is not high and it goes without saying that the poor and the sick die quite young. In millions of cases they never live to be young. The survivors of the massacre, with wounds in their hearts that will stop bleeding only with their last breaths, cantons be expected to live much longer. In fact, hundreds of old men and women who saw their young sons being brutally killed are already dead. One hundred and seventeen young women who witnessed those spine-chilling killings (whom I knew personally due to my involvement in the relief work) committed suicide.
Thousand of others have nothing to live for, nobody to turn to. Words like "keep faith in God," draw a blank from them. There is really no language to describe their pain and poverty.
The point to underline here is that the surviving eye-witnesses must be heard before it is too late. Already, there is a dearth of proof that can withstand a legal investigation. What is there is too precious to be lost.
INDIAN JUDICIARY’S DOUBLE STANDARDS
Study the following facts and draw your own conclusions.
The assassins of Mrs. Gandhi, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, after shooting Mrs. Gandhi, surrendered their weapons. They were taken to a room by the others in Mrs. Gandhi’s security, including, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) commandos and shot at. Beant Singh died on the spot and Satwant Singh survived to be hanged for the crime, thirty six moths after committing it. Among the most glaring gaps in the trial of Satwant Singh was the fact that, the ITBP commandos who shot him and Beant Singh, were not allowed to stand witness, despite concerted efforts by Satwant Singh’s lawyer, Mr. Ram Jethmalani.
Kehar Singh was hanged alongwith Satwant Singh. His crime, according to those who tried him in court? He was a party to the conspiracy to kill Mrs. Gandhi. He was nowhere on the scene of the crime, nor could they prosecutors convincingly prove that he had been a party to the conspiracy. But he was hanged.
That is the efficiency and speed with which justice was meted out to the killers of Mrs. Gandhi.
Now read the other side of the story.
Thousands of Sikhs were openly massacred for four long days in the streets if India. Hundreds of killers, seen by and known to the victims families, are prowling free. Those who planned and organised the anti-Sikh violence, some of them on trial, still have state-provided security (comprising of the country’s best-trained commandos).
For the consolation of the survivors, the state set up many commissions of inquiry but all were equally useless.
The first appointee to the august post of Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry set up by the government, was, justice Ranga Nath Mishra.
What did Justice Mishra do? He gave a clean chit to the Congress party by concluding the inquiry on this note: No congress leader was involved in the violence. This, despite the fact that, the question, whether the Congress party had a hand in the anti-Sikh violence, was not even listed in the scope of inquiry. Justice Mishra was suitably rewarded for this. His next posting (from an ordinary judge of the Supreme Court) was as the Chief Justice of India. There seems to be no end to the irony which marks government’s actions in the period after the carnage of Sikhs. Justice Mishra went on to become the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), set up by a Congress government.
Now, a look at the way justice Mishra conducted the inquiry- alone, behind closed doors, where the survivors gave him their accounts of the violence.
Who did they blame? What did they say? How did they say? Nobody, other than Justice Mishra has a clue. Apparently, they said enough for Justice Mishra to give a clean chit to the Congress Party, but not enough to find anybody else guilty of violence.
Presuming that the Congress had no hand in the killings, could justice Mishra not fine anyone guilty? Or, did he believe there were no killings? If he acknowledges that the killings took place, was it not his job to find out the killers, on the basis of the survivors accounts? Why else was he appointed? To clear the name of the ruling party?
Who was responsible for the killings, if not the Congress? Justice Mishra’s silence on the question is had enough. But, how is it that 14 years later, this question is not even being asked much less answered by anybody in India? Don’t all these questions make us reflect on the sad state of democracy in India?
"FORGET AND FORGIVE," SIKHS ARE TOLD
Sikhs as a community and Sikh religious and political leadership, in particular, have had to listen to a lot of wise talk on the November, 1984 events. "Why rake up an old issue? "Time is the best healer." "Forget and forgive." "God will punish the guilty." And much more.
I too have been at the receiving end of such noble advice. And, who are the people giving it? Top government officials, agents of the Congress party, professional fixers dealing on behalf of some of those facing trial (none of whom can be named for obvious reasons). And, Just to make their advice credible they have recruited some Sikhs to influence me out of campaigning for justice for the victims’ families. Following is a clip of a conversation I had with a top government official who came to meet me alongwith a top Sikh industrialist.
"Babbar saab, we have come to ask you for a favour."
Sure, I will do it, if I can."
"We knew you would not disappoint us." They cheered up.
"Babbar saab you have done a lot on the November 1984 issue, spent so many years of your life on it. Isn’t time we closed this sad chapter? It will bring relief both to the victims and to the country."
I agreed to their proposal on the following conditions.
"You forget Indira Gandhi. Let nobody ever visit her grave. Forget it is a national monument. Forget Rajiv Gandhi. Release all those directly or indirectly involved in his killing of jail. Forget they ever lived."
The two men left. They did not come back. But, many others did. Many more will come. I am prepared with my answer. I have rehearsed it over and over.
"RIOTS" IS A MISNOMER
For over 14 years, reams have been written on the November, 1984 anti-Sikh violence. A section of the media has played a very important role in keeping the issue alive, which would, hopefully, play a key role in the victims’ families eventually getting justice. However, in a majority of the reports, the violence has been referred to as a "riot". My book is a small attempt in correcting that wrong. To refer to a state-sponsored massacre of Sikhs, as "riots" a would be a serious mistake and a distortion of history.
Let us examine what a riot is. It is a two-sided show of violence with the elements of action and reaction although, not necessarily, equal and opposite.
However, nothing of the sort happened in November, 1984. Sikhs did not react to any killing. They did not attack anybody. They did not attack any property. They did not attack any religious place. They did not rape any woman. There was not a single non-Sikh in any relief camp. In all these years, not a single witness has come forward to even claim that Sikhs were seen or heard celebrating Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s killing, a rumour that cost thousands of Sikhs their lives, in a show of violence which has no precedent in the history of pre or post-partition India.
The import of the book is to underline that the November, 1984 anti-Sikh violence was government-sponsored genocide of Sikhs.
CONGRESS (I) : THE CHIEF CULPRIT
The Congress party, each of whose members cannot stop croaking about
the party’s commitment to secularism, emerges as the chief culprit in this
genocide. In fact, It would not be an exaggeration to say that the massacre
took place on the orders of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his coterie.
Each of the Congress party members is guilty. The hands of each one them
are soaked in the blood of Sikhs, never mind the propaganda material about
their secular nature that they dish out through a largely insensitive and
unthinking media. In fact, this is not the only example of the Congress’s
role in participating in communal violence although it is the most serious
example. The party has been known to be involved in a majority of the communal
riots anywhere in the country, especially, in states where it was the ruling
party. It may be of some interest to the public to know that, till date,
the party has not even expressed sorrow at the genocide of Sikhs much less
apologise for it. The Congress is the only political party in the country
which has not made a single statement or submitted any memorandum to any
quarters for the cause of the victims. Nor has it participated in explanatory
and, of course, shining pointers to the Congress party’s "secular" character.
Following is a list of those involved in the anti-Sikh violence of November, 1984
1. Papita, a gangster
2. Brahmni (Mishrani) Shastri
3. Baleshwar Bhrgi alias Bhalu
4. Bal Kishan
5. Bihari Dhobi
6. B. D. Sharma
7. Israi Ali alias Chunnu
8. Salim, a notorious criminal
9. Massa, charas smuggler
10. Yayiha Siddiqui, clinic owner on the main road of Block
11. Monu Singh, shopkeeper
12. Soni, railway employee
14. Mukri Master
15. Om Parkash alias Omi, mason
16. Ved Parkash, brother of omi and head mason by vocation
17. Noor Jahan
18. Karamat, cement-seller
19. Shabnam, owner of a TV shop
23. Advas’s son in law (Abbas of Block 32)
24. Mukri, video shop owner
26. Kamruddinm four-mill owner
27. Nayamat Ali
28. Neenav, tea shop owner
29. Dr. V. P. Singh
30. Duli Chand, local gangster
31. Rampal Saroj, Congress (I) leader
32. Gopal Singh
33. Kishori Lal and his four brothers, manely, Shravan, Shiya Chote and Kamal who are a
alleged to have brutally murdered four Sikhs, Hukam Singh, Teerath Singh,
Sajjan Singh and Soma Singh.
34. Jaggi Sansi and his wife, Draupdi
35. Kharak Singh Pradhan
36. Gaffar Khan, cement seller
37. Manu Sansi
39. Somnath, alleged to have killed Hoshiar Singh (son of Milap Singh) alongwith three
other men after locking them in a room and setting it on fire
44. Telo Sansi, Draupdi’s sister
45. Rooplal, who is alleged to have murdered Labh Singh
46. Omi Chamar, cobbler
47. Murari, vegetable-seller with a shop in Block 31
48. Pehlvaan, brother of Rashid
52. Kallo Khan, dhaba-owner
53. Abbaas, cloth and shoe shop owner in Block 27
54. Dr. Lambu
55. Bhallo, boot legger
56. Kayamat Ali
57. Raju Bhangi
60. Murli Khan
61. Sher Khan
62. Raju Ram
63. Bedhu Ram, alleged to have killed in 31/99 and 32/97 Blocks
65. Bhoom, local gangster
66. Gyani, student
67. Mohhamed, bicycle shop-owner
70. Kamal Singh, rickshaw-owner
72. Rashid, cycle Rickshaw shop-owner in block 32
98. Ganapt, shop-owner
99. Piriya, Gujarati
100. Gurbat Bhai
103. Changa Doctor
104. Omi three-wheeler driver
105. Garib Das
106. Dharmanand, kerosene-shop owner
107. Hasla Ram
111. Pal Brahman
115. Gopal and brother
117. Raghubir and Bangi
118. Pratap Bhangi
120. Barji Lal and his son
121. Kala Ram and his two son
122. Prem Singh Muchiwala, property dealer
123. Jai Kishen Bhangi
126. Mohan Lal, son of Thekedar Komal
127. Taar Chand, Carpenter
128. Master, kerosene shop-owner
129. Radhe Shyam, mechanic
130. Babu Lal, vegetable-seller
131. Sikander’s brother
132. Gulab Singh, godown-owner
133. Hardwari Lal, Mandal Pradhan
134. Narendra Singh, Congress (I) worker
135. Salim Quereshi, Congress (I) worker
136. Shaukeen, Congress (I) worker
138. Shiv Charan
140. Biro Joginer, kerosene shop owner
141. Trilok, flour mill-owner
142. Gupta, paper-seller
143. Delu Ram, tailor
144. Bhola Doodhwala
145. Balbir Doodhwala’s son
146. Prem Nai
147. Gyan Malwai
148. Natgayan’s son
150. Bhatia, Congress (I) worker
151. Dogra, Congress (I) worker
152. Singh, Congress (I) worker
153. Lakshmi dhoban
154. Aswani, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker
155. Satpal, hotel-owner
156. Ashok Kumar, flour mill-owner
157. Ram Niwas Sharma
158. Rohtas Singh of Shkarpur village
159. Kadam Singh, Panchayat Chief
160. Kadam Singh’s nephews
161. Nambat Singh, ration shop-owner
162. Sham Lal, retired assistant sub-inspector
163. Jai Singh, kerosene shop-owner
166. Pratap, Chief of the village administrative body, Sagarpur, who is alleged to have killed 22 people
167. Dabbu Bhangi
168. Kalia Bhangi
169. Upli Bhangi
170. Son Sassi
171. Mohan Sassi
172. Raju Bhangi
173. Malaram, who distributed kerosene oil free to the killers
175. Sachdeva, property-dealer
176. Raj Kalia, cement-seller
177. Gupta, grocery shop-owner
178. Ram Prakash, worker in a khadi shop
180. Kishen Dutt
181. Babu Das
183. Balwant Khokar
184. Mohinder Singh Baragdola
185. Iswar Chand Sharma
186. Pandit Ram Niwas
187. Pandit Tara Chand
188. Kamal Dhobi
189. David, son of the Dhobi
190. Vinayak and his family members
AZAADPUR INDUSTRIAL AREA.
191. T S Bedi, factory owner
A LIST OF THE GUILTY
This list includes people who instigated violence and later protected the criminals
H K L BHAGAT, Information and Broadcasting Minister
It is learnt that he influenced the decision to release some mobsters from the Shahadra Police station on November 5.
BABURAM SHARMA, Municipal Corporation Member (Ward No. 58)
He is a confidant of Mr. Bhagat’s. The allegations against him are : He led the violent mob on a motorbike and mike in hand and is responsible for killings in Baabarpur, Chajupur, Maujpur and Ghonda in East Delhi.
SAJJAN KUMAR, Congress (I) MP
It is alleged that he gave a hundred rupees and a liquor bottle each to the killers.
LALIT MAKEN, Congress (I) Party Trade Union Leader and Metropolitan
It is alleged that he distributed money and liquor bottles to the mob and an Ambassador car, said to be his, was seen at Azadpur on Grand Trunk road four times during the violence and the mobs were given instructions by the car occupants.
DHARAMDAS SHASHTRI, Congress (I) MP from Karol Bagh
He is alleged to have provided the list of Sikh houses and shops with electoral roll as the source. According to press reports of November 5, 1984, he is also alleged to have pressurised police officials in Karol Bagh police station to release from custody those arrested for the anti-Sikh violence.
JAGDISH TYTLER, Congress (I) MP.
He intruded into press conference of the Police Commissioner, Mr. S C Tondon, on November 6 and told him, by arresting my men you are obstructing the relief work for the victims.
MAHENDERA SINGH, Metropolitan Councillor.
It is alleged that he, alongwith Dharamdas Shastri, was seen going around with electoral rolls (used to identify Sikh houses) in Prakash nagar.
MANGATRAM SINGAL, Municipal Corporation Member, (Ward No.32)
He is alleged to have been in the company of Dharmadas Shastri during the violence.
Dr. ASHOK KUMAR, Municipal Corporation Member, Kalyanpuri.
It is alleged that violence was sparked off after he held a meeting with Congress workers and supporters and that he was leading the crowd which indulged in large scale violence, including, killing, burning, looting and gang-rape of women.
SUKHANLAL SOOD, Metropolitan Councillor.
Eye witness accounts allege that he led the violent mob and that he brought lists of Sikh houses and petrol (used to burn Sikhs alive) to the scene of violence. Later, when he went to the Shakarpur relief camp to distribute food AND sweets to the survivors, some women recognised him and had him chased out of the camp.
JAGDISH CHANDER TOKAS, Municipal Corporation Member, Munirka, Ward
He is alleged to have led the violent mob in sector 4 and 5 of R. K. PURAM.
ISHWAR SINGH, Municipal Corporation Member, Mongolpuri, Ward NO.
He is alleged to have led the violent mob in Mongolpuri.
BALWANT KHOKAR, Youth Congress (I) Leader, Delhi.
He is alleged to have instigated the violent mob in Palam Colony.
FAIZ MOHAMMED, Youth Congress (I) Leader, Delhi.
Survivors in the Shakarpur relief camp and residents of Mongolpuri say that he was directly involved in the violence.
RATTAN, Delhi Youth Congress (I) Leader.
He is alleged to have been directly involved in the Palam Colony violence.
SATBIR SINGH, Youth Congress (I) Member.
He is alleged to have brought a busload of criminals to Guru Harkishen School in Munirka and participated in looting and burning the school down.
This list includes police officials who ignored their duty, instigated violence and were directly involved in it.
MALHOTRA, Assistant Commissioner Police East Delhi.
He is alleged to have called the mob to the police station and told it that It "should have demolished the gurudwara as well (the mob killed……? Bhatia, a Sikh Congress worker). Besides, Malhotra is alleged to have accompanied the mob to the scene of violence. He was in a jeep, armed with a revolver, accompanied by two sten-gun wielding cops. Following him were two station wagons in which cans of petrol were kept. He is said to have handed over weapons to the mob and instigated the mob that came to the police station from Gurunangal Nagar and Lakshminagar.
JAI SINGH, SHO.
He is alleged to have told the mobs that they "have three days to kill and loot, free for all."
RAVRAM MEHAR, SHO, Shankarpur.
He is alleged to have identified Sikh houses and shops.
HARIRAM BHATTI, SHO, Sultanpuri.
He is alleged to have disarmed Sikhs of their small weapons of defence and On November 2, personally killed some Sikhs. Also , on November 3 and 4, he made Sikh men cut their hair on gunpoint.
ROHTAS SINGH, SHO, Sadar.
He is alleged to have personally indulged in burning down Sikh houses.
SHOORVIR SINGH, SHO, Kalyanpuri.
He reached Trilokpuri at 2.30 p.m. on November 1 when violence was on, is alleged to have ordered two constables on duty there to go away, thus giving the mob a free hand at violence.
R.D. SINGH, Sub-Inspector, Durgapuri.
According to survivors in the Loni Road, Gurudwara relief camp, Singh instigated the mob and personally beat to death some Sikhs.
SHO, R.K. Puram and Constable on duty.
When people from Sector 4 asked the duo for help to save a Sikh family in their area are alleged to have denied help and goes on to say, " Sikhs should be finished."
Following is a list of police officials who instigated and participated in the violence in the areas under their control.
TYAGI, SHO, Trilokpuri
RANA, Inspector, Trilokpuri
MOOLCHAND, Sub-Inspector, Trilokpuri
BAKSHI, Assistant Sub-Inspector, Trilokpuri
RAJVIR SINGH, Head Constable, Kalyanpuri (posted in Trilokpuri)
LIST OF RELIEF CAMPS
1. Model School No. 1 & 2, Alipur Road
2. Central High School (Near to Shyamlal College), Shadara
3. Police Station, Frash Bazaar
4. Police Station, Gandhi Nagar
5. Central High School, Opp. Radhu Cinema, Near Police Station, Shekarpur
6. Bhai Mota Singh School ‘A’ Block, Janakpuri
7. Central High School, Shakarpur, Rani Bagh
8. Central Girls High School, Shakarpur
9. Police Station, Sabji Mandi
10. Police Station, Sadar Bazaar
11. Bala Sahib, Gurudwara
12. Nanaksar Ashram
13. Durgapur Gurudwara
14. Jyoti Nagar Gurudwara
15. Baba Banda Singh Gurudwara
16. Tele Wada Gurudwara
17. Hari Nagar Gurudwara
18. Fathe Nagar Gurudwara
19. Air Force Station Gurudwara, Subathro Park
20. Sadar Bazaar Gurudwara, Delhi Gate
21. Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Jangpura Extn.
22. Panchsheel Park Gurudwara
23. Pishori Gurudwara, Tilak Nagar
24. Pandav Nagar Gurudwara
25. Open Sultanpuri Camp
26. Vinod Nagar Area, Parpad Ganj
27. Hansraj Model School Camp, Krishna Nagar
28. Kalyanpuri 13 Block
29. Sambhu Dayal College, Ghaziabad
30. Singh Sabha Gurudwara, Gurgaon
DELHI POLICE : A DEN OF CRIMINALS
It is absolutely shocking that even those police officials, who were found guilty by the various government-appointed commissions of inquiry, are still prowling free. The Delhi Police’s own Riot Cell also found 72 officials guilty but no action has been taken against any one of them. Even more shocking than the fact that no action has been taken against these officials, is the promotions given to many of them. Have they been rewarded for their crimes or what?
The most sordid stories of violence reported by Sikh families from
some of the worst-affected colonies, including, Trilokpuri, Mongolpuri,
Nangloi, Sultanpuri, Sagarpur and many areas of east Delhi, were the result
of the participation of some police officials. The violence in the areas
under their control was better-organised and more grotesque. In Trilokpuri,
for instance, police officials personally presided over the killings of
700 Sikhs in one days. For three long days, the colony looked like a bazaar
of a corpses. No police official even cared to remove the dead bodies.
What is more, some police officials alleged to have indulged in the anti-Sikh
violence, were given awards for gallantry by the President of India in
1997. If these shocking facts do not prove that the violence was well-planned
and organised, nothing else will.
The anti-Sikh violence in November, 1984, however has changed everything for the entire community. Fear and echoes have replaced song and laughter for which the community was known until that cruel November.
The Congress party’s vicious role in planning and executing the anti-Sikh violence is a foregone conclusion but it would be worthwhile to examine the party’s nasty role in turning the mass psychology against Sikhs in the few years preceding the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The Punjab political problem, which saw the rise of Sikh militancy and an unprecedented form of state terrorism, is largely believed to be a creation of the Congress (I) party. It is an open secret that the Sikh militant leader, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, had the full backing of the Congress party which wanted to use him to crush its main political rival in Punjab, the Akali party. It is besides the point that Bhindranwala outsmarted Mrs. Gandhi.
The essence of the Akali Dal’s political programme, before militancy hijacked everything in Punjab, was, decentralisation and a reasonable balance of power between the centre and the states. The Congress party was never interested in addressing the issue, its sole interest being to finish the Akalis as a political force. The Congress policy of finishing its political rivals through hook of crook, is what saw the rise of militancy in Assam, where a students movement against the infiltration of foreigners into the state and their inclusion in the electoral lists (to serve as vote banks for the Congress (I) party), degenerated into an "anti-national" movement. The Congress party and government at the centre launched a systematic campaign against the Assam students movement leaders, accusing them of being anti-national and sectarian. In Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam party too was dubbed as parochial and a threat to the nation’s unity. In Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah was removed as chief minister for having "become an instrument of anti-national forces".
What the Congress government did to the Akalis political campaign for decentralisation is too well known to be repeated, it must be underlined here that it was the Congress which was solely responsible for converting a political campaign into a communal issue, which, eventually, threw the entire state into the arms of terrorism. And, let nobody forget that a majority of the terrorists were also the creation of the Congress party. In a nutshell, anybody who opposed the Congress party was dubbed as anti-national, such sentiments having come from forceful propaganda over the years based on slogans like this, "Indira is India and India is Indira". The stranglehold of such beliefs over the party is evident from the fact that Rajiv Gandhi described the entire political opposition as anti-national in an election speech and campaigned all over the country against the Anandpur Sahib Resolution (the basis of the Akalis political campaign in the late 70s and 80s) as being an anti-national document.
It is the Congress which is responsible for throwing the state of Punjab, both the administration and the militant leaders, into the lap of terrorism. But for its devious policies, militancy would never have acquired the deadly face it did and ordinary Sikhs, who had nothing to do the politics, would not have acquired the image of terrorists.
Anybody who has followed the political moves of the party over the last two decades, knows that everytime the party saw its own political and electoral fortunes under threat, it raised the bogey of anti-national forces being at work in India although, it is an open secret that every secessionist movement in the country had the party’s backing. Not just this. Name any communal riot in the country which did not have participation of the Congress party, both direct and indirect.
Now, let us examine the Congress party’s cunning manipulation of nationalistic sentiments. The party seem to be suffering from paranoia about a "threat to India’s unity." Around every election this paranoia gets heightened. Its refrain of a threat to national unity is almost sickening. Why is the party constantly harping on this tune? To keep itself alive? Or to divide people on communal lines?
If by being secular it can do what it did to the Sikhs, can we imagine the harm that it can do when its declare mask comes off? In November 1984 the Sikhs were used as guinea pigs in a new electoral experiment, to woo the majority community votes. The killing of Mrs. Gandhi instantly united the Hindus of India behind the Congress. It was to unite the Hindus and to stoke their communal sentiments that the conspiracy behind the massacre of Sikhs was aimed, an aim in which the party had an astounding success. It was this sentiment which helped the party win the biggest ever mandate in the 1984 general elections. Rajiv Gandhi got the mandate not even his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru (a true secularist), could get. Who knows whom the party will use next.
Besides, by raising the bogey of a threat to national unity and security, the Congress has succeeded in keeping national attention away from crucial issues- poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and other basic problems of the population. It is this assiduously-raised bogey of the Congress which clouded the minds of the intelligentsia during those death-filled days. Earlier, the intelligentsia failed in its responsibility to correct the image of Sikhs, as projected by the official propaganda machinery. It just kept lapping up all that it was fed by the ruling party. The end result was that even during those days of grotesque anti-Sikh violence, its view was blinkers. Instead of playing a constructive role to contain the violence, it added fuel to the fire. For example, the late Girilal Jain, then the editor of Times of India, wrote a front page editorial on November 2, 1994. The editorial reminded the readers about how terrorist killings were cried out in Punjab and went on the say that the events preceding that day (the anti-Sikh violence) should serve as an eye-opener to the Sikhs and their political leadership, the Akali Dal. In other words, Sikhs, who were being massacred could still take some moral lessons from the violence. The editorial echoed the same sentiments that the leaders of the Congress had employed to get the community butchered. Similarly, many other intellectuals have contributed to the smear campaign against Sikhs.
Former editor of Navbharat Times, Mr. Rajendra Mathur and that of Jan Satta, Mr. Prabhash Joshi, for instance, have been harping on the following tune in their writing: The fanatic nature of the Sikh political leadership and the resultant anti-national character; the failure of ordinary Sikhs to resist terrorism because of their natural sympathy being with Khalistanis and terrorists and the role of the Akalis in the political turmoil that faced Punjab for over a decade and the threat to national unity because of their politics. These writer also advocated hard measures to put down the Sikh leadership.
Such examples are enough to prove the role played by the opinion makers, especially in the mass media, in shaping the psyche of the anti-Sikh mobs. And against this backdrop, it would not be far-fetched to state that a very strong section of the national media was as instrumental in the anti-Sikh violence as were members of the government. Don’t we all accept that the mind that plots a crime is deadlier than the hand that executes it?
How deadly secularism can be, we saw for ourselves in the first week of November, 1984. Sikhs are the enemies of India, they are all Khalistanis (just as Muslims are all Pakistanis). This belief took such roots in the mind of the majority that they could turn a blind eye to savage killings right under their noses. By looking the other way, the majority community lent an implicit support to the anti-Sikh violence and the reason behind it was the carefully cultivated hostility against the Sikhs in the mass mind. While it is true that the police, the administration and the Congress party members were involved in the violence right from start to finish, had the Hindus at large come out in sizeable numbers to counter the mobs, it would never have happened. Even the help lent by individual Hindus made a big difference in saving the lives of thousands of Sikhs. Collectively, the Hindus could have saved many thousands more.
Another factor that seems to have played a big role in the anti-Sikh violence is jealousy. A predominant part of the community lives in Punjab, which, with its fertile land, has made its people economically much more forward than the rest of the country. The prosperous state of the Sikh community apparently played a significant role in arousing violence. There are hundreds of people who took part in the violence, lured by the booty that could be had from the shops and houses of Sikhs. Of course, the mobs could not distinguish between the prosperous and the poor Sikhs because there was no time or mind for making such distinctions. So, they took a pot-shot at every Sikh.
To conclude, I would way that this new chapter in the history of
free India, written in the blood of Sikhs, born to be the defenders of
Hinduism (a role they performed with aplomb) is the biggest blotch on our
nation. It is not the material poverty line under which lie the living
dead of India that should shame us as mush as the poverty line of humanity
under which the whole nation lives. The genocide of 5,000 Sikhs and the
subsequent callousness with which the whole system has treated the issue
exposes, like nothing else, the utter mental and spiritual poverty of the