The editorial “The original sin of November 1984” (Nov. 1) brings to focus the shoddy and hapless manner in which the Congress government handled the unjustified riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The ruling party with its hot-blooded, lumpen elements went about providing non-stop verbal provocation that turned a mature people to mobs thirsting for “revenge.”

Badla (revenge) and sabak sikhana (teaching a lesson) have become characteristic of our reaction to any tragedy since independence. Thank god, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin was a Hindu. Even then, there was arson in Pune followed by a rigid curfew which I was witness to as a six-year-old. Again in 1984, I was in New Delhi where, by isolating colonies through barricades, etc., local residents unwittingly precipitated an uninterrupted crime wave in pockets with no signs of law and order enforcement. Two employees of the organisation I worked for were killed. Decades have passed but I have never been able to get rid of a sense of guilt since then.

Emperor Asoka built pillars and monuments as part of his penance. So there is no need to feel embarrassed in raising a monument to atone for our sins. It would be a dignified way of redeeming our pledge and belief, as a nation, in communal harmony, and an expression of our abiding empathy for the families of the hapless victims.

V V. Raghavan,

Chennai

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