7,000 Sikhs killed but no action in the past 25 years, says Harsimrat Kaur
NEW DELHI: It was Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s day in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday as she made a clarion call for bringing the guilty to justice and restoring the dignity of the minority community that had been “hunted and killed” for three days in October 1984 during the anti-Sikh riots following the killing of Indira Gandhi.
One Prime Minister is killed, the culprits are hanged within a couple of years, another Prime Minister is killed and the guilty have been behind bars for the past 18 years. But 7,000 Sikh men were killed and no action is taken for the past 25 years, she said. “Will you take any action? Say yes or say no, but give us an answer. We deserve it,” a visibly emotional Ms. Kaur said while recounting how she and her two younger brothers and 85-year-old grandfather were kept in hiding for several days to save them from the protectors who had turned into hunters. “But not everyone was as lucky,” she said barely managing to hold back tears.
Responding to an emotional appeal on behalf of the “small minority,” Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee said everyone was “ashamed” of what had happened then.
Admitting that Ms. Kaur had brought back the memories of a most tragic event that took place two-and-half-decades ago, Mr. Mukherjee said he could not bring back the lost lives or remove the agony of the victims, but we “can take a vow that it does not happen in the future.” He said he would talk to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding the issue and see what best could be done in the present scenario.
Holding the House in rapt attention, the young MP from Bhatinda in Punjab recalled the names of several women who had lost entire families during the riots. “These are not unknown faces but living people whose witnesses have been recorded but no action taken.” She spelt out the recommendations of the 10 Commissions that had been set up to look into the riots, but no action had been taken on these. Ms. Kaur specifically mentioned the Nanavati Commission that submitted its report in August 2005 with a recommendation to register four cases against the former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.
The recommendation, however, was not followed upon.
Citing the Constitution which guarantees dignity and respect to all communities irrespective of their religion, Ms. Kaur appealed to the MPs to stand collectively behind what is right and ensure that no minority community in the country suffered the way the Sikhs did. This evoked a tremendous response with the entire Opposition extending its support to her cause.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani and Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav sought a response from the government on the solemn occasion, but admitted that Zero Hour mentions did not necessarily evoke a response.
After the issue was over, the MPs, led by Mr. Advani, made a beeline for Ms. Kaur to congratulate her for raising the issue.