Public meeting to mark 39 years after the genocide of Sikhs:
Lessons from the struggle for justice

A meeting was held on November 1 in New Delhi, to mark 39 years after the gruesome genocide of Sikhs. Political and social activists, people from all sections of society, including a large number of students and youth participated in the meeting.

The meeting was organised jointly by Lok Raj Sangathan, Jamaat-e- Islami Hind, Communist Ghadar Party of India, Welfare Party of India, The Sikh Forum, Lok Paksh, United Muslims Front, Citizens for Democracy, Students Islamic Organisation, CPIML (New Proletarian), Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Purogami Mahila Sangathan and Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha.

At the head of the meeting was a large banner which read:

On the occasion of 39 years after the genocide of Sikhs in 1984:

Oppose the politics of communal division!

Advance the struggle for unity, peace and harmony!

The meeting was addressed by Shri S Raghavan, President of Lok Raj Sangathan; Shri Salim Engineer of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Advocate Shahid Ali of United Muslims Front; Shri Lalli Sahni of The Sikh Forum; Comrade Krishna Kant Singh of Lok Paksh; Comrade Prakash Rao, spokesperson of the Communist Ghadar Party of India; Shri Mohammad Arif of the Welfare Party of India; Comrade Munna Prasad of Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra and Shri Abdullah of the Student Islamic Organisation.

All the speakers vehemently rejected the official narrative that what occurred on those fateful days following the assassination of Shrimati Indira Gandhi 39 years ago, was a “riot”, a “spontaneous outbreak of passion”. They were united in condemning what happened in 1984 as nothing less than a state sponsored genocide of Sikhs.

They vividly described how, right in this capital city, between October 31 and November 3, 1984, armed gangs equipped with petrol bombs and voter lists, led by the top leaders of the ruling party, mercilessly massacred people of the Sikh faith, raped women, looted and destroyed properties of the Sikh community. It happened under the very eyes of the Delhi Police which reports directly to the Union Home Minister. The police actively disarmed the Sikhs, and encouraged the murderous gangs. The then Home Minister refused to take any measure to stop the genocide, despite incessant appeals from retired officers of the armed forces, diplomats, prominent members of parliament, journalists, and retired judges. The then Prime Minister of India, late Rajiv Gandhi justified this genocide at a mass rally in Delhi two weeks later, saying “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.

The assassination of a Prime Minister by her own security personnel reveals extremely sharp contradictions within the ruling circles, speakers pointed out. The role of the intelligence agencies and those entrusted with the Prime Minister’s security, as well as the role of Anglo-American imperialist agencies seeking to advance their positions in India needed to be seriously investigated. Instead, by deliberately highlighting the religious identity of the alleged assassins, the rulers justified the genocide of Sikhs, smashed the unity of the people and diverted their attention from the crisis within the ranks of the ruling class. The systematic propaganda that was carried out for 3 years before that, demonizing Sikhs as “terrorists” and “anti-national”, to prepare the grounds for this genocide, was highlighted.

For the past 39 years, people have been demanding that the government reveal the truth behind the assassination of Mrs Gandhi and the 1984 massacre. However, the response of successive governments has been to set up commissions of enquiry. These commissions have covered up the role of the central government, the Home Ministry, and the various arms of the state in organising the genocide. The principle of command responsibility, that those at the highest levels of authority should be held accountable for organised crimes against the people, has been blatantly ignored.

Speakers drew attention to the repeated incidents of gruesome state organized communal violence and state terror – the Maliana and Hashimpura massacres in UP in 1987, the massacres following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the communal genocides in Gujarat in 2002, Kandhamal in 2008, Muzaffarnagar in 2013, Northeast Delhi in 2020, and numerous others — to bring home the conclusion that our rulers continue to use the same methods to cover up the crisis within their ranks and to smash the unity of the workers and peasants. The politics of ‘divide and rule’, targeting of people of a particular religious belief, inciting one community against another, cultivating vote banks on communal lines – all these have become the preferred weapon of the ruling class, to break the unity of people and violate our right to conscience.

This is directly in the service of the biggest Indian and foreign monopoly capitalist houses, which want to crush the united struggle of the toiling people against the exploitation of our labour and plunder of our land and natural resources, in order to maximise their profits, several speakers highlighted. That is why, regardless of which political party is in charge of the government, we cannot expect that our rulers will ever reveal the truth or punish those who masterminded the genocide of 1984 or other communal massacres. Only the united struggle of people can ensure that our rulers do not succeed in carrying out their diabolical plans again and again.

Speakers pointed out that in the present political system, people are marginalized from decision making power. People are helpless in the face of state organised communal massacres. To change this situation, it is necessary to wage the struggle to end communalism and communal violence with the perspective of ensuring the empowerment of the people. We must unite to transform the political system so that decision making power vests in the people. Only then can we ensure that no one is persecuted on the basis of one’s religious beliefs, and that the right to life, right to conscience, and all other human and democratic rights are guaranteed.

The meeting reaffirmed the resolve of all participating organisations to defend and strengthen the unity and solidarity of the people and defeat the communal and divisive politics of the ruling class.

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