India: Victims Rise in Unison against the Perpetrators of 1984 Pogroms

Journalist throws shoe at Home Minister in Press Conference; Victims of Anti-Sikh mayhem of 1984, rise against the injustice meted out to them

-Rajesh Tyagi; 12 April 2009

Twenty five years have passed since more than three thousand innocent people, belonging to the minority Sikh Community, were brutally massacred, their properties burnt down, ransacked and looted and their women gang raped by the mob in Delhi and elsewhere in India, during anti-sikh pogrom of November 1984. This well orchestrated pogrom, which lasted for four days, with active connivance of the State machine, was organised by the then ruling clique in top leadership of the Congress party. The pogrom was organised to revenge the murder of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, at the hands of her own body guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, who were enraged by her dirty game ending with ordering the military operation inside Golden Temple at Amritsar, popularly known as ‘Operation Blue Star’. As is well known, it was Indira Gandhi, who through Giani Jail Singh had first pampered and fuelled ‘Bhindranwala’ and his terrorist campaign in Punjab to counter the influence of Akali Dal, but the strategy backfired when Bhindranwala becoming too strong, turned against Jail Singh and Indira Gandhi both. When situation virtually slipped out of hands, then she ordered operation Blue Star inside the Golden Temple, which is considered to be the most sacred religious temple by the sikh community. Immediately after Indira Gandhi was killed, the leaders then in command of Congress (I) party, taking benefit of the situation, conspired to organise a genocide of Sikhs, with the aid of police and goons, to take revenge against the whole sikh community and to terrorise the people at large.

The intensity of conspiracy can be adjudged by the comment, Rajiv Gandhi, the elder son of Indira Gandhi, made on the Radio, during the pogrom, that “when a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake”. This was a virtual signal to carry out the mayhem. This well hatched conspiracy, was then translated into a wholesome genocide against the whole minority community of Sikhs,by killing Sikh men mostly by putting burning tyres around their necks, destroying their houses and other property mostly through arson and gang raping of their women in front of the men and children in the houses. While the organised mobs of goons under command of Congress leaders continued the violent spree, the police not only remained mute spectator, but actively assisted the mobs to carry out the mayhem.

The names of Lalit Maken, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and Harkishen Lal Bhagat, all of whom were Union Ministers at the time and were members of High Command in Congress party, appeared in the versions of witnesses, as the persons leading and instigating the mobs, to commit the ghastly crimes against Sikhs. Needless to mention, that these Congress leaders had been part of the political corterie formed by Sanjay Gandhi, younger son of Indira Gandhi, who had died earlier in a plane crash, on a morning pleasure trip. This corterie, had come to be known as the ‘iron fist’ of the Congress party, for the criminal credentials and connections, its members had to their credit. Sanjay Gandhi, the mentor of ‘emergency’ had earned infamy in short span, not only for his extreme arrogance and hatred towards democracy in general, but also his contempt towards Muslim community. Son of Sanjay Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, who is candidate in Paliamentary elections, is presently lodged in jail under the National Security Act, 1980, for his comment that he, if voted to power, would cut down the hands of Muslims.

Anyway these anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984, led by the Congress Leaders, including the cabinet Ministers themselves, were the worst of their kind since the communal carnage of 1947. As the violent spree was carried out in broad daylight for about four days, many eye-witnesses identified and named these leaders of Congress who led the mobs, which engaged in killing of Sikhs, raping their women and arson and loot of the property. Rajiv Gandhi, himself was never charged for his apparent role in instigating the carnage, but upon immense mass pressure, later on several Congress leaders had to be booked for different offences. Lalit Maken was later killed by Sikh militants at his residence for his role in anti-Sikh pogroms, while Rajiv Gandhi was blasted into pieces by a woman suicide bomber of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealem (LTTE), to revenge for sending the Indian Army to Sri Lanka, against LTTE.

As Sikh community comprises a considerable vote bank in Punjab, Delhi and many parts of India, the cases had to be registered against Congress leaders, at both top and local level, but the process of law was manipulated in such a way that none of the leaders of Congress had to go to jail for such massive crimes committed by them in broad daylight and for which ample direct evidence was present. Investigation of the case was deliberately prolonged, witnesses silenced under threats of consequences similar to that of 1984 massacre, and finally machinery of law was influenced. Hence, was dragged the trial of the case for 25 years, with no major convictions at hand. As multiple FIRs of the case were registered, the statements of complainants and witnesses were twisted in a way that the VIP culprits were either spared or allegations against them were diluted to the core. Real witnesses of the crime, who wished to depose were not made witnesses, as is shown by the facts in Jagdish Tytler’s case. One by one, in the meanwhile, the VIP culprits started to be exonerated after trials by the Trial Courts, giving them benefit of doubt.

After the devastation, in which whole families were torn apart, properties destroyed, the poor victims, had to dwell for shelter in refugee camps at different places. Voluntary committees were formed by citizens for welfare of these dwellers, who were forced to become refugee in their own country. Conditions of many of these refugee colonies, remains worse than slums, till this day. Though the victims could not be rehabilitated, nor the guilty punished, but the chief organisers of the genocide, the Congress leaders, were repeatedly given party tickets in the elections since then, they won the elections and were then given berths in Ministries. Poor victims of pogroms continued to wait for justice in vain for 25 years, since 1984.

In order to passify and what they termed as compensation to the Sikh Community, Manmohan Singh, was given the berth of Prime Minister, in the UPA Government led by Congress party. Manmohan Singh never raised any voice against the mayhem, rather continued to sit in the corterie of the very same Congress leaders, the organisers of the sikh massacre. Moreover, it was under his leadership that the Congress continued to issue party tickets to those accused of sikh genocide of 1984.

Once again, the aforementioned Congress leaders, including Jagdish Tytler, were fielded by the Congress Party, for parliamentary elections, pending cases and accusations against them. The acquittals by the Courts, giving benefits of doubt, and their fielding as candidates to Parliament, could only have rubbed salt to the wounds of vicitms, but could not have washed out the memory of ghastly crime. By now, the patience of people, especially of the victims, started to exhaust.

A sikh Journalist of daily newspaper ‘Dainik Jagran’, Jarnail Singh, confronted the Home Minister, P.Chidambaram, with troubling questions regarding the issue of party tickets to the named offenders in anti-sikh pogroms. The Home Minister first evaded the issue and then upon much insistence of the Journalist, refused to answer the questions. The journalist, then threw a shoe upon the Home Minister, in protest. This action, highlighted the issue of awarding those accused of anti-sikh pogroms, with party tickets by the Congress.

Demonstrations started with sikh men and women participating in them. Congress waited first for the tampers to die down but was then forced to take a volte-face. It had to withdraw the accused persons from the fray, as the sikh votes were not only decisive at about twenty parliamentary seats, but were able to disturb the balance of poll at many more seats, all over north India.

The investigating agency in the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the police under the control of Central Government and accused of virtually acting under the hand of very same Congress Leaders, charged for offences, instead of filing an implicative charge sheet against Jagdish Tytler, gave a clean chit to him in the case, right at the time of fray for parliament. Clean chit was given by the CBI while disbelieving the statement of Jasbir Singh, an eye-witness to the events, who had later shifted to California. His statement was recorded by the CBI on the orders of the Court. The statement had clearly implicated Jagdish Tytler as organiser of the errant mob. The CBI, however refused to place reliance upon the statement of this witness, as apparently his deposition would not only implicate Tytler, but may result in his conviction too. This malicious exoneration of Tytler by the CBI, that too at the threshold of elections, further fuelled the anger among sikh community. CBI would have succeeded in its game-plan, had a huge mob of victims not crossed over inside the premises of the trial court, after smashing the barricades of police.
The main opposition party, the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), and its ally Akali Dal (Sikh Party), both have tried to derive political mileage out of this situation. However, the BJP has no answer to the fact, that after 1984, it itself had been in power for considerable period, then why did it not take the steps to ensure that the guilty of anti-sikh pogroms are punished? And why Akalis did not force the Government of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by BJP, to do it? Moreover, the BJP is itself culprit of organising the anti-muslim pogroms of similar nature and magnitude, in Gujarat, where it had the Government in its hand, under Narendra Modi.

Following the trajectory of anti-sikh pogroms of 1984, the BJP had organised similar genocide against Muslim minority, killing at least two thousand, arsoning and looting the property and mass rapes of their women. Both Congress and BJP are guilty of genocide, arson and loot of innocent people and their properties. In both cases crimes is committed against the weaker, minority communities.
The shamefaced Home Minister, P. Chidambaram was forced to admit that the delay in the process of justice, due to slow pace of legal system in this country, caused the situation to slip out of hands. However, this explanation stands fractured in face of the facts. How one may say that the legal system in the country is slow, when this very legal system had made the trial of December 2001 Parliament Attack Case, reach at its end point in December 2002, resulting in conviction of four of the accused. Appeals were heard and decided by September 2003 by the High Court and even Supreme Court passed verdict by 2004. The zeal, efficiency and promptitude, demonstrated by the legal system in securing convictions for accused in Parliament attack case, remains totally absent in Anti-Sikh Pogroms case of 1984, resulting in three thousand murders, rapes, loot and arson, Babri Demolition Case of December 6, 1992 resulting in communal riots at several places in India claiming over two thousand lives, and anti-muslim genocide of Februrary 2002, which again claimed lives of two thousand, mass rapes, arson and looting of property. The VIP accused in all these cases, from Tytler to Advani and Narendra Modi, still remain scot free.

The Stalinist leadership, in CPI, CPM, had continued to be the part of ruling alliance-United Progressive Alliance (UPA), for fairly long term, but did never press the issue of taking action against the perpetrators of anti-sikh or anti-muslim pogroms, to its logical end. The promised bill, which comprised part of Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the UPA, with provision for adequate mechanism and punishment for organising communal riots, did never see the light of the day and the Stalinist leadership never made it an issue, even on the floor of the Parliament. The parties under the leadership of Stalinists and never raised this issue, with political seriousness, to lead the minorities against the ruling elite. These parties never thought of preparing the working class to confront the pogromists, with daggers in their hands, on the streets, and this way to lead the minorities behind the working class.

While the weaker sections, minority communities continue to be easy targets for pogroms organised by the elite rulers, the motive of these elite rulers, behind organising such terror campaigns is not confined to any particular community. In fact, by organising these campaigns, the elite rulers publicly and openly demonstrate their monstrous and destructive powers and capabilities, before the eyes of people, to create a sense of terror among the masses at large, of the colossal might, they have at their disposal. They show before the people that the entire machinery of law, police, jail, and even the courts cannot prevent them from doing, what they want to do. Through pogroms, they induce a feeling of fear among the common people, that it is they and their whims, which reign supreme and it is their writ which would only work. In this way, they torpedo the farce of the rule of law, subjugating the people’s psyche to their cynical designs. Ready mobs of lumpens are used for the purpose of committing the crimes openly against the humanity, while nerves of majority of the people is calmed down, partly through fear and partly through intrigue of communal divide. This intrigue, enables the rulers to segregate a particular community, victimise it before the eyes of other sections, sometimes even with their overt or covert agreement, and thus flourish on this divide. The terror of the elite rulers, however, subdues not only the minorities but the people as a whole, to the terrorist rule of these elite rulers.

Leon Trotsky in his writing 'Whither France: Workers Militia and its Opponents' written in 1934, had shown how the workers must be organised in militias and trained to combat the pogromists. The historic experience of successful workers intervention against oraganised pogroms in Russia, is clearly demonstrative of the fact that the very first appearances of columns of workers on the streets of cities, at the outset of such events, would have been sufficient to force the 'elite babies' to confine themselves to the safety of their homes, instead of heading the lumpens to commit massacres of innocents. But instead of confining the elites, the Stalinist leadership confines the working class and holds it back from taking to any effective resistance against the pogromists- the lumpens led by elites.

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