RAJEEV KHANNA | 5 NOVEMBER, 2018
Call for UN Probe into 1984 Riots As Mainstream Parties Play Politics
Noise without substance
CHANDIGARH: The anniversary of the anti Sikh pogrom of 1984 seems to have become an occasion for Punjab's mainstream political parties to take forward their political agendas without bothering to get justice for the families who have been fighting for the last 34 years. This was in evidence this year too. Noises were made with no road map given to answer the burning questions that are still alight.
Amidst this, the once separatist Dal Khalsa, now a hard line political organisation in Punjab, has called upon the United Nations to order an international inquiry into the November 1984 genocidal killings. It has stated that the Sikhs will actively pursue the UN and world powers that have remained oblivious to the Sikh yearning for justice, and have under Indian pressure failed to admonish India for the carnage in Delhi in November 1984.
The call was given at the conclusion of a ‘Rights and Justice March’ held at Chandigarh on Sunday. The organisers made it clear that for them the meaning of justice was not compensation but punishing the perpetrators, and finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict that gives rise to genocidal pogroms.
Party president HS Cheema said, 'Today our concern is no longer whether India will do justice, because it will not. Today we want to shift the battleground from New Delhi to Geneva. We will make last ditch efforts to persuade the UN to order an international inquiry into the November 1984 genocidal killings.'
The Dal Khalsa has stated that the UN, under its new Secretary-General António Guterres who visited Darbar Sahib recently, has to wake up to the reality that India, the land of Gandhi, is a hate filled, intolerant society with a political climate detrimental to a large cross section of its people, especially regional identities, minorities and nationalities.
Cheema said a culture of impunity for the political and police leadership has been in place since the 1980s. Even today, three years after the firing at Behbal Kalan at people protesting the sacrilege of holy texts, the guilty cops are free of the so-called long arm of the law.
Party leader Kanwar Pal Singh said, 'If the UN can order an enquiry in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, surely it can do so in India. From Canada to the US, provincial governments have acknowledged through resolutions the November 1984 pogrom as genocide. We believe it is the turn of the UN not only to endorse this but even to go beyond it.'
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party held a dharna outside Sonia Gandhi's residence in New Delhi on Saturday to highlight the injustice meted out to the survivors of thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children killed during free India’s ‘worst massacre’.
Party president Sukhbir Badal along with union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and other Akali leaders courted arrest. Earlier the Akalis performed ardas at Gurudwara Rakabganj Sahib in Delhi before marching to Sonia Gandhi’s residence. In his address Sukhbir Badal said, 'The November 1984 tragedy was not a riot, because it was not a fight among communities. It was plain and simple a massacre of innocents by the Congress killers.'
But the Akalis need to tell the people that since they are allied with the BJP, why they have failed to pressure the Narendra Modi led central government to get justice for the victims. After all they were also part of the Atal Behari Vajpayee led National Democratic Alliance from 1996 on. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by PM Modi has not made much headway so far in terms of dispensing justice.
At least 10 commissions and committees have probed the matter so far, yet justice continues to elude the public.
This time the Aam Aadmi Party did not make much noise on the matter in Punjab, apparently as it was too busy tackling its internal strife. The party has been saying that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did decide to constitute an SIT in his first tenure lasting 49 days, but the decision could not be implemented as the government vacated office. But the Modi government announced the SIT just two days before Kejriwal took oath as chief minister for the second time, and set a six-month time limit for it to file its report.
AAP MLA HS Phoolka who recently submitted his resignation has been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of the victims in the Delhi courts. He resigned last month expressing unhappiness over the Amarinder Singh led state government’s ‘failure’ to initiate action against former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and retired Director-General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini in the incidents of sacrilege of holy texts starting 2015.
The Congress remains tight lipped on the issue for obvious reasons. The issue has lost its electoral relevance because the Congress has formed governments in Punjab more than once. For the other parties talk of justice is now just a tool to forward their own political programmes.