PUCL Bulletin, September 1993

Killings of Sikhs in 1984: can conscience be stirred?
By R. M. Pal

Since the publication of PUCL-PUDR Report Who are the Guilty? On 1984 killings in Delhi the organistaions have been under heavy attack from and vilified by those whose conscience has never been stirred, and is not likely to be, by the brutal and cruel killings of thousands of innocent Sikhs in 1984 whose only "crime" was that they belonged to a particular community. And that inspite of the fact that none including government appointed Commissions/Committees to enquire into the killings have been able to contradict the findings in Who are the Guilty?

The savagery should have put any civilised government to shame. Instead the guilty men have escaped punishment, even though several Commissions and Committees have indicated them. All methods of subterfuge, dishonesty, untruth, half-truth-in fact everything that is adopted by all uncivilised societies-have been adopted by the rulers of our country to see that the guilty, instead of being published, are elevated to positions of political power, and are promoted.

Have any number of Commissions-but given the insensitivity of the people at the helom of affairs and their cunning, the guilty of 1984 will be brought to book; they have not been during the last 10 years. This will be another permanent blot in our "non-violent and tolerant" chapter of history. The present prime minister (he was the home minister) was presiding over the liquidation of Indian unity in 1984 - watching the spectacles of Delhi burning and the indescribable violence culminating in men and women being burnt and massacred, which in turn began to alienate a section of our people. It was stated by a senior officer that the decision not to call the Army in Delhi was taken on 31st October 1984 by the then government in a meeting in which, amongst others, the then prime minister and the present prime minister were present.

HR and civil liberties organisations can therefore only draw some meaningless satisfaction that Who are the Guilty? has once again been vindicated by the latest government appointed Jain-Aggarwal Committee (Justice J. D. Jain and Justice D. K. Aggarwal) which too is reported to have given specific instances of killings and rioting, and stating that there has been "colossal indifference towards the loss of human life and property of Sikhs" in 1984, and that "no attempt was made to ascertain…if he or she had witnessed any other killing or incident of loot or arson. Such was the indifference towards loss of human life and properties of Sikhs". This Committee is also reported to have recounted, which we have known and said all along, the failure on the part of the authorities to register FIRs and sabotaging investigations. Since the rulers have succeeded in doing so all these years, only incorrigible optimists will have the hope that it will now take prompt steps to proceed against the guilty.

However, the Jain-Aggarwal Committee has revived the painful memory of savage killings of Sikhs in the presence of their wives and also that killers were acquitted by the Sessions Court. The Committee is reported to have recommended severe punishment for 298 police officers, 333 cases for fresh registration and 129 for reinvestigation; and also, that the Committee believes that group of influential people was involved in many ways. To give just one instance from the findings of the Committee (as reported in The Pioneer of Delhi): Shakti Singh in the Nizamuddin area brought another disturbing fact to the fore. Two youth Congress activists, Hari Chand Saini and Vijay Chaudhury, took active part in looting and arson of Sikh properties in Lahorian-di-Hatti Chowk in the area. There were witnesses listed in FIR no. 412/84, stating that they saw the Youth Congress leaders "in action". However, no action was taken, even though a separate FIR was registered against them in 1987 (no,44/87, dated Feb 17, 1987). The case was eventually closed as "untraced" on Aug 14, 91. This committee has also reported that this particular case was given a decent burial after case dairies were manipulated under the pressure of influential elements.

The rule of law having failed, the conscience of the nation, more particularly of the thoughtful section of our people must be stirred; otherwise savagery and brutality that we have been witnessing in our country cannot be arrested. And for that we need an Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar-Vidyasagar confronted by utter insensitivity, cruelty and irrational behaviour of the Pandits of his time and of the society in general with regard to women exclaimed in sheer exasperation: "Oh, unfortunate women, what sin have you committed that you had to be born in this blessed country where men have no sensitivity!" Include-the deprived, the weak, the minorities.

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