39th anniversary of 1984 genocide of Sikhs:
Lessons from the genocide

Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 25 October, 2023

November 1 marks the 39th anniversary of the gruesome massacre of Sikhs in 1984. A systematic genocide was carried out for three days, led by prominent leaders of the Congress Party, which was then in charge at the Centre. The streets of Delhi and many other towns were filled with bodies of Sikhs who had been brutally murdered. It has been estimated that over 10,000 people were killed in those three days.

The official story about the genocide is nothing but a pack of lies.

The official story describes the events of those days as a “riot”. A riot is a spontaneous clash between two groups of people. What happened in November 1984 was not a riot. It was not a fight between two groups of people. What happened was a cold blooded massacre carried out by those wielding political power. It happened right in the capital of India, under the watchful eyes of the Delhi Police which reports directly to the Union Home Minister. 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 Supreme Court, located in Delhi, remained a silent witness to that massacre. In the past 39 years, the judiciary has actively participated in spreading the false narrative that what happened in November 1984 was a spontaneous reaction of people to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards. Parliament did not condemn the genocide. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi justified the genocide with the words that “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security personnel. The killing of a Prime Minister by her own security personnel reveals extremely sharp contradictions within the ruling circles. It demanded a serious investigation into the role of the intelligence agencies and those entrusted with the Prime Minister’s security. It needed to be investigated whether the assassination was carried out by the Anglo American imperialists to advance their positions in India.

By deliberately highlighting the religion of those who allegedly assassinated Mrs Gandhi, the ruling class covered up the sharp contradictions within its ranks. The state run Doordarshan and All India Radio, as well as the principal capitalist newspapers all focused on the religious identity of the assassins of Mrs Gandhi. All Sikhs were blamed for the assassination, and furthermore, of being anti-national. The genocide of Sikhs served to smash the unity of the working class and people, and divert their attention from the deep crisis in the ranks of the ruling class. It diverted attention from the role being played by the Anglo American imperialists.

The propaganda demonizing Sikhs as anti-national, as traitors, began three years earlier, when the Akali Dal began organising for the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution of 1973. The political demands included greater share of river waters, return of Chandigarh to Punjab, and increased autonomy. These demands reflected the concerns of various sections of the people in Punjab, including the peasantry. The demand for increased powers were being raised by the propertied classes in some other states as well. On the other hand, the monopoly capitalists, who dominate the all-India market, wanted further centralization of powers in the hands of the Central government, in order to be able to plunder all the land and resources of the country without any hindrance.

In these conditions, the Central government deliberately highlighted the religious demands of the Akali Dal, and carried out incessant propaganda through the media that the Sikhs were demanding secession from India. Communal poison was spread all over the country. Meanwhile, the Anglo American imperialists were busy fishing in troubled waters to increase their stranglehold over the Indian Union, in contention with the Soviet Union. The intelligence agencies of the Anglo American imperialists secretly encouraged various fissiparous forces in India. At the same time, they also coordinated with the Indian intelligence agencies. The British government of Margaret Thatcher sent its intelligence agents to assist the Indira Gandhi government to plan the Army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The then Central government justified the army attack on the Golden Temple with the brazen lie that Sikhs camping inside the Golden Temple were planning to carry out large scale communal massacres of Hindus all over the country. In fact, the Central Government adopted the method of Hitler’s Germany, made famous by its propaganda minister Goebbels, that a lie which is repeated a thousand times will eventually become accepted by the people as the truth.

For 39 years, people have been demanding that the government reveal the truth behind the assassination of Mrs Gandhi and the 1984 massacre. People want to know what went on in the corridors of power in the weeks and months preceding the genocide, and during those three days and nights. What was the discussion in the Union Cabinet, the Home Ministry, and what was the role of the intelligence agencies? What was the role of the Anglo American imperialists?

In the past 39 years, no government at the Center has bothered to reveal the truth behind the 1984 massacre to the people. 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, the various arms of the state in organising the genocide.

This systematic cover-up reveals the hand of the ruling class and its entire state machinery. While the Congress Party and the officials in leading positions of authority at those times, were the executors, the massacre was carried out in the service of the ruling class as a whole. The ruling class organised the genocide in order to resolve the contradictions within its ranks and smash the unity of the working class and toiling masses.

This cover up is not accidental. It is deliberate. The ruling class and its political parties do not want the truth to be revealed about who organised the assassination of Mrs Gandhi and why the genocide of Sikhs was carried out. They want to be able to use the same methods to overcome the sharpening divisions within their ranks and to smash the unity of the workers and peasants. The repeated incidents of gruesome state organized communal violence and state terror – experienced by our people in Gujarat in 2002, in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, in Northeast Delhi in 2020, and numerous others – confirm this.

The people of our country have seen this in the course of the kisan andolan during 2020 and 2021. The Central government spared no efforts to paint the kisans from Punjab as separatists and anti-national, in order to besmirch the entire kisan andolan and smash the unity of workers and peasants. The monopoly capitalist controlled media carried out incessant propaganda to spread this lie. It is to the credit of the workers and peasants that they did not fall prey to this tactic.

The lessons of the 1984 genocide and of the struggle against communal violence since then can be summed up as follows:

  • Incidents of communal violence are called “riots” in order to blame the people and cover up the truth that it is those in power who are guilty of organising such crimes;
  • Communal violence is a weapon in the hands of the ruling bourgeois class and its political parties to break the unity of workers, peasants and other oppressed people;
  • We must wage the struggle against communalism and communal violence with the aim of transforming the political system, so as to replace the rule of the bourgeoisie by the rule of workers, peasants and all other working people. Only then can it be ensured that the right to life, right to conscience, and all other human and democratic rights are guaranteed; and no one is discriminated against on the basis of her or his beliefs.

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