A day of rememberance – 1984 Sikh Riots

Just finished reading Dominic Lapierre’s Freedom at Midnight. Have been meaning to read it for quite some time now. We’ve read and heard about the horrors of partition, but it is often ignored today being labelled as “something” that just happened during the time.

Actually the entire nation of ‘Unity in Diversity’ applied to India is just a farce. The level of discontent running through the numerous communities oriented towards the other “different” people is real and explodes every so often.

Politicians and local ‘goondas’ are often blamed for inciting these riots, but its the people who follow who should really be taken to task. The politicians are just playing on the hidden antagonisms in rioters which when given an avenue, results in the african machetti type executions and slaughter of thousands. One of the more hard hitting movies depicting such acts during partition was ‘The train to Pakistan’.

Given our history and proclivity to violence (ironically from the nation which introduced the concept of non-violence), I thought we can take a step back and remember the deaths of countless innocent people in post partition riots.

We’ve just passed the 21’st anniversay of the anti-sikh riots which engulfed delhi and other cities after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her sikh body guards on Oct 31, 1984. Over 3000 sikhs were systematically murdered by the ruling Congress Party activists and sympathisers. The congress party not only turned a blind eye and condoned the killings, but the Prime Minister at that time, Rajiv Gandhi – Indira Gandhi’s son, was reported to have remarked ‘When a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake’.

Justice has still not been delivered to the victims of the state sponsored genocide and probably will never be.

Quoting from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali

Where The Mind is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

90 years from the time the poem’s been published, still awaiting it being a reality.