GOVERNMENT ORGANISED CARNAGE [Sarkari Qatl-e-Aam]
THE ROLE OF THE COMMON MAN
The anti-Sikh violence in the aftermath of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination was definitely the result of a well-planned conspiracy which had the active participation of members of the ruling party, the government, the administration and the police force. However the role of the common man also calls for a close study.
The violence cannot be entirely dissociated from the general animus against the Sikh community as a result of the systematic anti-Sikh propaganda about the political turmoil in Punjab in the preceding three years, which saw the rise of Sikh militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala and the demolition of the Akal Takht in an army operation ordered by Mrs. Gandhi (Operation Bluestar in June 1984).
The central government, by ignoring the genuine demands of Punjab political leaders gave a fillip to Sikh militancy and, Hindu communalism as reaction to it. By attacking the Akal Takht, the centre also isolated a very strong section of the Sikh political and religious leadership which only gave rise to further communalism. By the time of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination, it was apparent that the mass Hindu psyche had reached a stage where it could condone the anti-Sikh violence in the name of ‘national interest’.
The violence was the result of the official policy to teach the Sikhs of Punjab a Lesson and, policies like this are not something for which one can furnish hard facts as proof. However, proof is manifest in the mass media and the mass mind. The long reign of militancy in Punjab, against which an ordinary Sikh was as helpless as any other citizen, a fact not often recognised, fuelled mass antipathy towards the community.
Although many Hindu neighbours played a salutary role in saving the lives and property of Sikhs, a majority of the population played an implicit role in the violence. Many survivors complain that their Hindu neighbours watched the violence as though they were watching a film show. It is this mass psychology of the Hindus which prompted them to believe all the rumours about the Sikh community during the carnage including that train-loads of Hindu dead bodies were arriving from Punjab and that the Sikhs were going to strike back after the first day of violence.
The evidence of vicious communal feelings against Sikhs in the Delhi police force has been given in the preceding paras and chapters.
However, this should not distract us from appreciating the role of Hindus and Muslims who saved Sikhs at a grave risk to their own lives. There are many unsung heroes who do not find a mention in the list of names given at the end of the book but Sikhs owe them a deep gratitude.