462.The Man in Blue – Haryana, Rewari, Hondh-Chillar, 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogroms

The killing of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards is an act I understand in the context of the time, but I am not really proud of it.

Guru Gobind Singh was willing to visit Aurangzeb after he received a positive answer to his Zafarnama, in spite of the fact that Aurangzeb was responsible for the death of many Sikhs, including Guru’s close family members. Guru demonstrated the Sikh way of life.

This does not take away the enormity of what happened in 1984. Even if you agree with the Indian authorities that Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a terrorist, treating everybody who happened to be in Harmander Sahib during the June 1984 invasion by the Indian Army as terrorists was totally wrong.

What happened in Delhi and in Congress ruled states in India after the killing of Indira Gandhi was in no way justified by the act of the Sikhs bodyguards. Even if  Sikhs agreed with the killing of Indira Gandhi, that does not justify the killings, the rapes or the attacks on houses and Gurdwaras.

What happened in Delhi has been reported by various independent non-Sikh observers, and although the Indian authorities still live in denial, all independent sources agree that organised mass killings of innocents took place while the authorities looked on approvingly.

What happened in villages in Haryana and in other Congress ruled states was only observed by other powerless villagers and any documents pertaining to killings in those locations were easily be lost or buried in a heap of other dusty papers.

These attacks on Sikhs were not riots. I was involved in the group who brought out the Sikh Kristallnacht report, and that report rightly used the word ‘pogrom’. The report has been re-launched by the Network of Sikh Organisations UK (without fully acknowledging its source) and should still be available from them.

Under Adolf Hitler in Germany the ‘Kristallnacht’ was the start of the ‘final solution’ of the ‘Jewish question’. During the ‘Kristallnacht’ organised attacks on Jews and Jewish property took place. The ‘Kristallnacht’ was not a series of spontaneous riots that got badly out-of-hand, it was a state sponsored pogrom.

What are needed in all parts of India where Sikhs were killed and raped, Gurdwaras and Sikh houses set fire to, often with people still inside, are truth and justice committees.

All parties should come together and admit to mistakes made, crimes committed, and achieve reconciliation, as we might have seen between Guru Sahib and Aurangzeb, if the emperor had not passed away before Guru Gobind Singh arrived at his court.