Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 was a tragedy of enormous proportions which was compounded by the horror of the anti-Sikh riots that followed (“The original sin of November 1984,” Nov. 1). What remains undisputed is that the high-profile political leaders responsible for the violence not only went unpunished but their political careers remained untouched. Indeed, some even flourished. While the nation and the Sikh community have moved on, those who lost their dear ones in 1984 need to see justice being done.
The1984 violence was no less a blot on our nation although the ruling establishment is more vocal about 2002 and is silent on the patronage the Congress provided to those responsible for the anti-Sikh riots. The reason many do not realise the severity of 1984 is perhaps that the electronic media did not have such a wide reach then. At least some have been punished for the 2002 riots but we are yet to see anyone punished for the 1984 riots.
There have been many communal riots in India after independence. But they have hardly been probed seriously. Nor has anyone been punished for perpetrating them. When the governments of the day hesitate to take action against the rioters, the victims lose faith in them.
The similarity in the criminal indifference of the BJP and the Congress to their role in the Sikh massacre of 1984 and the Gujarat riots of 2002 is more disturbing considering that they are the main political parties staking a claim to run the government at the Centre. Posterity will judge with abhorrence that two elected governments and two national parties systematically failed to deliver justice to the victims of two of the most heinous instances of mass violence.
ManamaThe Kandhamal violence against Dalit Christians and tribals in 2008 was as vicious as the 1984 and 2002 communal riots. In all three instances, the state machinery remained a spectator. Democratic India has seen pogroms against all three significant minorities — Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. The least the governments could have done was to have ensured that the persons responsible for the killings were punished.
The meticulously planned mass murder of Sikhs by a mob instigated by Congress leaders should be neither forgotten nor forgiven. The then Prime Minister knew what was happening outside his gates. It was proved that voters’ lists were circulated to rioters for targeting Sikhs.
Although we can draw a parallel between Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002, there is a difference in the number of people killed in police firing. In Gujarat, hundreds of rioters were killed in police firing, which is not widely known.
P. Madhu Kumar,
The editorial succinctly points to the culture of pogroms India has developed since 1984. I was in college when Mrs Gandhi was assassinated. We were pained and saddened. But what followed was not only painful but also horrendous.
I welcome the novel idea of a monument in Delhi in memory of the 1984 riot victims. Rajiv Gandhi might have felt it was logical for the earth to tremble when a big tree fell but, unfortunately, it was not legal or ethical on his part to have failed in punishing those responsible for the violence. A similar memorial should be put up in Ahmedabad for the Gujarat riot victims. I am sure such noble gestures will go a long way in bringing about unity among the fractured sections.
A monument for the 1984 riot victims is necessary to keep reminding us of the depths to which we, as a country, plunged. We cannot bring back those killed. Nor can we change the continuous years of pain the survivors have endured. But a monument for them will send out a message that the India of 2012 cares. It will show that we have not allowed time to blur our memories and the country will accept nothing less than justice for the victims
Prathit Charan Misra,