SIKHS

The Untold Agony of 1984

By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

The facts about this genocide, aftermath the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31st October 1984, will leave you only in tears and heartbreak. It is more in a descriptive and informative format, as the author has only placed facts about the situations and the events.
I see a lot of hard work and determination put into showcasing the shameful sequence of events, depicting violence on a community. Referred to as sectarian violence, it was clearly proven as a state-sponsored riot in this book.
The stories are raw and candid, directly written as narrated to him.
Nearly 3000 Sikhs were killed in these riots in the capital city of Independent India which consisted mostly of Men and Young boys. The Sikh homes were broken into, looted, vandalized, burnt into ashes and those living in there were hunted down. They were killed in running trains too. There were burning bodies lying on the streets, tyres around their necks, their turbans were taken off and set ablaze. Gurudwaras were set on fire. The motive behind this violence was “to teach a lesson”. The whole city was ravaged by hatred and people had to hide either in the premises of their own house or those of their non-Sikh neighbours.
There are numerous kids who have eye-witnessed this and are believed to have lost their childhood that day. Kids grew up believing that the manslaughter between India–Pakistan back in 1947 could never occur again, until the riots of 1984.
One of the stories narrates about a man who would watch television at late-night with teardrops in his eyes, every time the Bajaj Scooter advertisement played on the screen. The rioters had set ablaze his Bajaj Scooter that day and he would watch it till the last line that said “Buland Bharat ki Buland Tasveer”. Only then after watching the complete commercial, he would get up and head to sleep. The widows showed dignity following the crisis when they turned down the offers of adoption of their kids to rich families.
Also, Mukhopadhyay has put up a brief analysis of the politics that had happened which he might have understood by the stories from people and other research work that had led to this violence.
The author has put across this book in a sequential manner. First, describing, the violence thoroughly with all the information that he can gather throughout the capital city. Then explaining the Political front and the analysis of the Politics that took place. And later, the last part portraying how the survivors of this violence have coped up with life. The last part soothes us somehow.
This genocide was a factor for the less number of Sikhs in Delhi, as they left the city finding shelters outside the capital.
Sikh leaders parted their ways from the Congress party and moved to other parties.
There were behavioural changes in the people who have eye-witnessed those days. They turned out to be a lot more understanding and tolerant.
Many of them left the capital city migrating to Punjab, started a new life and profession and never returned back.
They would never wish to visit the place where their home once stood.
Many families have given up eating sweets, not for the sake of it but because they have lost the feeling of eating something reminiscing.
They say that “we do not visit 1984, 1984 keeps visiting us”.
The only consolation from the political front was from a public admission by Dr Manmohan Singh but nothing has been heard of as far as any actions are concerned.
It also shows how even after decades of this genocide, a community has led a silent battle of justice in their own country without holding any grudges towards other people.
It is a very sensitive book. Almost every Sikh family has kept these memories alive and passed it on, to the next generation.
The best line that I can depict from this book was the last excerpt:

Sadly, the ones who died in Delhi and elsewhere were no martyrs. Moreover, they did not die fighting a battle that was theirs.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

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