'Sajjan Kumar's Arrest Is Respite, Not Justice'
'Others who were involved in 1984 are still partying'
NEW DELHI: Congress leader and former MP Sajjan Kumar was convicted yesterday by the Delhi High Court for his role in the anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984. The Citizen spoke to several people from the Sikh community in Delhi about their reactions to the verdict. Four of them wished to remain anonymous.
Satinder Singh, a retired accountant from Trilokpuri
‘Living in Shakkarpur at the time, my office was very near to Indira Gandhi’s residence. Before going home that day I stopped at a neighbour’s house to watch the news of her assassination on television. The next day houses were being burnt down, there were riots everywhere.
My wife and I didn’t come out of our house for three days. Since it was a new house and we had just moved in people didn’t know we were Sikhs. I got my hair cut so I wouldn’t be identified as a Sikh.
We were fearful of the mobs and hence did not approach the police to register complaints. The police also did not provide us protection.
By now, we have completely lost faith in the judiciary. Even though Sajjan Kumar’s arrest comes as some respite, it is not justice.
Just as the judiciary punished Indira Gandhi’s murderers, it should have punished the perpetrators of the riots back when all that was happening.’
Balwant Kaur, a teacher in Mathura
‘Those were difficult times. Children were killed and beaten up in front of their parents. Patrolling was done every night.
I lived in Delhi’s GTB Nagar then. My husband’s textile shop in Mathura was looted and burned. A mob of more than 100 people tried to barge in, so they threw tiles on the mob to fight them. My sisters-in-law had already been sent to stay elsewhere. They had to flee town and only returned years later. They had to build everything from scratch.
What has passed has passed; we can’t do anything. We lost our shops and our property. Had we got any help back then it’d have mattered.
Coming after so many years, Sajjan Kumar’s arrest can’t be called justice. It’s all politics. Only to get the vote of the Sikh community is all this being done.’
Japleen Kaur, a Delhi University student
‘All I know about the 1984 riots comes from my grandparents. My grandfather tells us stories of what his cousins in Delhi had to go through.
Sikhs are a minority identity. Even though I didn’t live through the event, I know it has defined a lot of what I believe, and how strongly I believe in my community ideals.
Sajjan Kumar’s conviction isn't the solution obviously; nothing can fix what the 1984 massacre did.
But, it's a step forward, I'm happy.
The conviction may have a political angle, I don't know.’
Anonymous, a Delhi University student
‘It was a very traumatic event. With just one arrest, justice cannot be delivered. The younger generation of the Sikh diaspora, and even the older ones, see it as a political gimmick. The fact that Sajjan Kumar is in the opposition is the reason they have finally arrested him.
The time is all too beautiful for BJP. They are trying to gain votes from the Sikhs. They can never repair what happened.’
‘It is nonsense to comment about this. Even the common man understands it is a political stunt.
Others who were involved are still partying it up (mauj le rahe hain). When Congress was in power for ten years, they never apologised. It’s all Drama.
The younger generation is only aware of the stories; they didn’t witness the brutal reality. So they are at least happy with the fact that Sajjan Kumar has been convicted.
But as far as my generation is concerned, people who were in their twenties at the time are in their fifties now, and even if Kumar is hanged till death, it isn’t enough.
How much life does Kumar have left anyway? No wonder Congress is feeling remorseful now.’
‘I hail from a village in Jalandhar, and came to know about Operation Blue Star and the ’84 massacre from people of my village who had witnessed it. So I returned home to be safe.
I’ve never seen my brothers cry, but when they narrated what they had gone through in the city, they couldn't help themselves. They were shaken.
They didn't spare anyone, not even children. No one stopped them.
It’s wrong that they’ve convicted him so late! I don't think it’s enough but I can understand why others think it’s a good thing.’
‘I was in Jammu when it all happened. We Sikhs consider our community our family, so I will say my family faced a lot of trouble.
After 30 years, even if they hang these culprits it’ll do no good. You must tend to the wound when you are wounded; when it’s filled it will make no difference.
I will not call them riots. What happened in 1984 was a genocide, to target the Sikh community.
Sikhs never set out to harm any community. When Mahatma Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were killed no such riots took place, but after Indira Gandhi’s assassination this carnage happened.