We will not forget the 1984 genocide!
The struggle to punish the guilty shall continue!
On 1st November, which is the 34th anniversary of the 1984 genocide, Sikh Forum organized a well-attended panel discussion at the Constitution Club. The panel consisted of Shri H.S Phoolka, Member of Punjab Legislative Assembly; Shri Krishan Chander Singh, former Ambassador of India; rights activists Uma Chakravarti, John Dayal and Urvashi Butalia; and journalist Hartosh Singh Bal.
Earlier in the day, Lok Raj Sangathan organized a protest demonstration in front of Parliament. Those who addressed the demonstration included Shri S Raghavan, President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Shri Shahid Ali of United Muslim Front, Shri Inderjeet Singh of Sikh Forum, Shri Jarnail Singh, former Member of Delhi Legislative Assembly, Shri Siraj Taalib of Welfare Party of India, Shri H.S. Phoolka, Shri Inamur Rehman of Jamaat e Islami Hind and Comrade Prakash Rao, Spokesperson of Communist Ghadar Party.
Families of victims of the genocide from Kanpur organized a protest in front of Parliament to highlight their terrible plight. Several other demonstrations and public meetings were also held in Chandigarh and other towns of India on 1st November, 2018.
In these meetings and protest demonstrations, speakers recounted the horror of those three days that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. For three days and three nights, rivers of blood had flown through the streets of Delhi, Kanpur, and other places. Innocent men and boys of the Sikh faith were brutally burnt alive. Women and girls were gang raped. The property of Sikhs was looted. Their homes and Gurudwaras were set on fire.
Killer gangs were incited and led by leaders of the Congress Party, the party then in power. Doordarshan, kept repeating the bloodthirsty call “khoon ka badla khoon”, which gave the signal to the killer mobs all over the country that they had the full protection of the Indian state. The police had actively participated in the genocide and the army was ordered to remain in the cantonments while cities burnt. The then Home Minister Narasimha Rao refused to heed the demand of people that the government immediately stop the carnage. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi justified the genocide in his first public address to the country with the words “When a big tree falls, the earth will shake”.
|Shahid Ali||Inamur Rahman|
|Siraj Taalib||Inderjit Singh|
Shri Shahid Ali and Shri Siraaj Talib pointed out how the Hashimpura massacre in UP, the Nellie massacre in Assam in the 1980’s, the demolition of Babri masjid and the massacres that followed in 1992-93, were carried out when the Congress Party was ruling.
Shri Phoolka pointed out that the intelligence agencies of the state had meticulously planned the genocide of Sikhs well before Operation Blue Star in June 1984. The attack on President Zail Singh’s car on the evening of 31st October, 1984, in front of hundreds of security personnel who took no action, was deliberate. It was a signal that no Sikh would be left out, and the police should not defend them. Many policemen who participated in the genocide later deposed before the Marwah committee set up in 1985 and revealed that they had received orders from their superiors. The government wound up this committee in order to ensure that the chain of command was never revealed to the public.
Smt Uma Chakravarti pointed out that it was extremely sickening that the entire media was dominated by the “Tu Tu Mein Mein” shouting matches between the BJP and the Congress each trying to prove that the other is the bigger criminal. As far as the people of India are concerned, the issue is that both are responsible for carrying out genocides and there is no question of choosing a “lesser evil”.
There was complete unanimity amongst all speakers that what happened in November 1984 was not a communal riot, but an act of state terrorism.
Shri Jarnail Singh argued that a communal riot involves a clash between two communities. There was no such clash in 1984. What happened was a genocide of Sikhs, whose organizer was the central State. That is why, after 34 long years, and reports submitted by 10 different government-appointed commissions and committees, the guilty have not been punished.
Not only was this genocide meticulously planned and carried out, its cover up has also been carefully planned and implemented. Be it the administration, police or even the judiciary, everyone adopted the approach of just closing all cases linked to the genocide, and preaching a policy of “forgive and forget”. The entire state machinery got involved in saving the culprits rather than in convicting and punishing them.
Many governments have come and gone, parties have replaced each other, but the guilty have not been punished. The BJP came to power in 2014 saying it would punish the guilty, but nothing has been done.
Speaker after speaker pointed out how Congress Party and BJP systematically whip up communal passions and use the state machinery to organise communal massacres. It would be a grave mistake to think that one of these two parties is a “greater evil” or “lesser evil” than the other.
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out how slandering a particular community in order to unleash communal violence and justify state terrorism has become a preferred method of rule in our country. In 1984, those in power sought to justify state terrorism by declaring all Sikhs to be “terrorists”, “anti-national” and Pakistani agents. Since then, successive governments have been continuing on the same path. At present, the BJP-led central Government seeks to justify the lynching of Muslims, atrocities against Dalits and arbitrary arrests of human rights activists by branding them as “terrorists”, “Maoist sympathizers” and “Pakistani agents”. He called on people to unite in defence of rights and against state terrorism, rising above all ideological differences.
The Indian people have always upheld the principle that the State is duty bound to ensure prosperity and protection for all. Those in power want to divert people’s attention from the failure of the State to carry out its duty. They are spreading anarchy and escalating state terrorism, to split and smash the struggles of the people for their rights.
The struggle for justice, for conviction and punishment of those guilty of mass murders, will continue until we, the people of India, succeed in establishing a new system of society. We need to unite around the program of Navnirman – of creating an India where everyone’s right to conscience is protected, with a State that guarantees human rights and prosperity for all.