Survivors of anti-Sikh riots demand justice

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar leading a candlelight rally in New Delhi on Tuesday to pay homage to victims of anti-Sikh riots. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar leading a candlelight rally in New Delhi on Tuesday to pay homage to victims of anti-Sikh riots. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Twenty-seven years after witnessing the brutal killings of their family and neighbours, survivors of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and their families assembled at India Gate here on Tuesday to demand justice and pay homage to the victims of the violence.

“Twenty-seven years have passed without justice for the families of more than 5,000 Sikhs who were killed in 1984. That day will remain etched in our memory forever,” said Tilak Vihar resident Nirmal Kaur, whose father and six uncles were among those killed in the violent attacks which followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

A candlelight vigil, supported by human rights groups Lok Raj Sangathan, Sikh Forum, People's Union for Democratic Rights and People's Union for Civil Liberties; was organised at India Gate on Tuesday.

Apart from the families of victims, the vigil was attended by a large number of people from the civil community to express solidarity with the demand for justice. “The victims have not seen justice even after 27 years of the massacre [of 1984]. Commission after commission has exonerated the ruling party in spite of compelling evidences against them. The Congress organised and supported the riots…which raises the question, can the killer hang himself?” said Lok Raj Sangathan Delhi secretary Sucharita.

While the families of the victims seek justice for the violence that wreaked havoc in their lives 27 years ago, their angst has not been diminished. “This is a blind and deaf government.” Family members of the victims remember the horrors that continue to haunt them even today. Several gurdwaras in the city organise “Shaeed Paath” (prayer for martyrs) every year for three days beginning November 1.

“With mothers having to fend for the family, our children are not properly looked after and inevitably get into bad company. The men were killed in the massacre. What wrong did the community do to deserve this?” questioned a distraught Pappi Guha, who lost ten male members of her family in the riots and continues to struggle to make both ends meet.

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar also attended the vigil. “This is a protest against government inaction. The grouse in the [Sikh] community is that the killings have been covered up by the government. We are all here to demand justice and emphasise that victims should be rehabilitated,” he said.

“Even though we do not expect this government to give us justice, we will not give up our demand for it. They have not kept any of the promises made to families of the victims of the riots. Neither the jobs, nor any other financial help…but we continue to fight to bring justice to the ones we have lost,” said Darshan Kaur, fighting back tears as she remembered the 12 members of her family who were killed in the riots.

Senior advocate H. S. Phoolka, who has appeared for several cases of the anti- Sikh riots, said: “If the guilty of the 1984 carnage had been dealt with an iron hand and given due punishment, communal violence in Mumbai and Gujarat could have been avoided.”

Pointing out that communal riots have become a political tool for successive governments, Lok Raj Sangathan Delhi convener Birju Nayak said the larger issue being addressed was the lack of justice for the riot victims.

“This is not a community specific issue, but a human rights issue,” added IGNOU professor Amarjit Narang.

Among other prominent people present were former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, human rights advocate Vrinda Grover, advocate and social activist Prashant Bhushan and several third generation children of riot affected families.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 10:35:30 pm |