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Updated: November 7, 2009 18:51 IST

Seeking justice for ’84 victims

Staff Reporter
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File picture of Jarnail Singh. Photo: V. Sudershan
The Hindu File picture of Jarnail Singh. Photo: V. Sudershan

It was a planned conspiracy, says Jarnail Singh in his book ‘I Accuse….’

“It was an extraordinary situation that required an extraordinary protest….” is how journalist-turned-author Jarnail Singh describes his infamous act of lobbing a shoe at Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram at a press conference here in April this year.

Speaking at the launch of his new book, “I Accuse…”, here on Friday, Jarnail Singh said his writing is an instrument for bringing forth the anger at the injustice that was the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage. The book, published by Penguin, dwells on the massacre that the author claims was a “planned political conspiracy” and questions the delay in punishing those who were responsible for the killing of Sikhs in the country.

Released by Darshan Kaur, a victim of the anti-Sikh riots whose story has been documented in the book, the author said: “It is sad that in a country like India innocent people who were not at fault were killed over three days, yet there is no punishment for those responsible. Instead, those responsible for the mass murders have been brought to Parliament. I read somewhere that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that we should forget this (the carnage)…..but we cannot ever forget what has been done,” said Mr. Singh.

He said the Prime Minister and other political heavyweights have not even bothered to visit the colonies of the victims nor made an effort to seek justice for the people. Clarifying that this anger and struggle for justice is not just for his own community, he asked: “Why should there be a Gujarat or an Orissa? Whenever there is injustice the leaders should go there. Why are they scared to go?”

“It was not a riot, it was a planned conspiracy. The media failed to highlight the issue, Doordarshan was in denial mode, 3,000 people were killed, witnesses have been turning hostile, and some have even passed away. It took my protest to make the media realise that there is an issue….” he said.

Unhappy over the prolonged wait for justice, Mr. Singh, who was barely 11 when the November 1984 bloodbath took place, said: “The Sikh psyche is in shock.”

He regretted the role of civil society and politicians in failing to push for justice. “Why should only Sikhs be witnesses? Why don’t people from the other communities stand up and say that they saw it, why don’t the opposition parties come forward and say what they saw?....There has to be a stringent law against communal violence which is at par with terrorism. We have to fix responsibility of the administration, the police and the politicians. We still have time to correct the course of history.”

The book begins with a narration of the author’s experience as a witness to the massacre in Lajpat Nagar, a South Delhi neighbourhood. “I am not affiliated to any political party or thought; the book came because I wanted to shame the culprits, to expose them. There was no documentation of the sufferings of the people, but after my protest the issue has been highlighted. They said the way I protested was not right, but I am drawing attention to the reason for the protest. I am as an Indian citizen seeking justice,” he said.

The book was also simultaneously released in Hindi.

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