GOVERNMENT ORGANISED CARNAGE [Sarkari Qatl-e-Aam]
THE ROLE OF DELHI POLICE
The police played a uniform role throughout the city during the days of anti-Sikh violence from October 31 to November 8 (When the army was withdrawn after being called on November 3). The police did the following three things: It was completely absent in most areas and, where present, it looked the other way. Worse still, many police personnel played a direct and indirect role in carrying out the killings and looting. If this is not telling enough, there is more.
On November 1, when the rioters were killing, burning and looting in South Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area, a single police van stationed there was doing nothing to stop the mobs but trying to prevent a procession of peace-marchers (all common citizens outraged at the mass-scale violence) from moving towards the area. An Inspector prohibited the peace-marchers from going to the spot of violence because of curfew in the city (under section 144 of the Indian Penal Code). The Inspector was quoting rules to the peace-marchers while the killers had been given a free hand to fill their cup of anti-Sikh violence. The Inspector even told the peace marchers to proceed towards the rioting mobs at their own risk. The marchers went ahead and tried to calm the mobs by telling them that ordinary Sikhs, who were being targeted by them, were not responsible for Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination and that the anti-Sikh violence must be stopped. They raised slogans like Hindu Sikh bhai bhai in order to pacify the mob. But some men from the mob retaliated, Indira Gandhi Zindabad, Hindu-Hindu bhai bhai.
It is significant to note that peace-marchers all over the city were reduced to a joke by the blood-thirsty mobs and although the mob claimed to be mourning the assassination of Mother India (as Mrs. Gandhi’s was referred to), there was nothing the slightest sign of grief on their faces. Had it not been for the killing and the looting, one would have thought the mobs were participating in a carnival.
In some cases the police, even when it was approached by Sikhs for protection, either refused to help or when it did offer help, it was to the killers, not to those getting killed. According to the account of many witnesses, policemen actually helped the mobs in identifying the houses of Sikhs and, in Trilokpuri, a police vehicle was seen handing out diesel oil to the mob which had fallen short of it. The SHO, Kalyanpuri (under Trilokpuri district), has been charged with recalling some cops stationed in the colony just when Sikh women were being gang-raped after their men had been killed. The SHO of Sultanpuri police station, Bhatti, is alleged to have snatched the weapons of Sikhs who were trying to defend themselves against the killer mobs. Residents of Loni Road in east Delhi say that the police used mikes to announce from moving vehicles that Sikhs should prepare to defend themselves as the police was no longer responsible for their safety. A woman from this place says, she saw some men throwing stones at Sikh shops from a police vehicle and, in another instance, a cop was seen directing the crowd to loot a shop before burning it down. In Kotla Mubarak, a domestic help told one of our party workers that the police instigated the mob with such statements : We gave you 36 hours to finish the Sikhs, but what did you do? Had we given the same amount of time to Sikhs they would have finished all the Hindus. The survivors in the Kingsway Camp claimed that 70 percent of the loot from Sikh establishments could be found in the local police station, such was the role of the police in the violence. Even Hindu neighbours of those affected by the violence in some cases would vouch for the fact that the police refused to register the first information reports (FIR). One eminent Sikh, whose house was burnt on November 1, failed to get an FIR registered despite repeated pleas to the police. In Mongolpuri an SHO is learnt to have told the Hindu neighbour of a Sikh family not to bother about the safety of Sikhs and bother instead about the safety of Hindus.
Two residents of Ber Sarai, Dharmraj and Rajvir Pawar have a telling story. They went to the R.K. Puram police station on the night of November 1 to seek protection for a Sikh neighbour. The rest of the neighbours were, meanwhile, busy trying to protect the neighbour targeted by a mob, led by congress party member. Jagdish Tokas. The SHO R.K.Puram told the Pawar brothers that he could do nothing to help while the constables on duty questioned the wisdom of Jats (pawars are also Jats) helping the Sikhs instead of killing them. Don’t you know Sikhs are sending train-loads of Hindu dead bodies from Punjab? the Pawar were asked.
Not to forget here, however, that some police officers did try and intervene to stop the violence but their efforts and good intentions got lost in the majority voice, which was filled with hatred and hostility against the Sikhs as community.
A senior police officer told me that when he heard about a couple of thousand people ‘pa trolling’ the streets of Delhi on two-wheelers, scooters and motorbikes, he tried to contact the detective wing of the Delhi Police, the CID or Central Investigation Department but that he failed to make any contact although CID is supposed to have a wireless communication network.
In the face of the all-out police negligence and connivance in the violence, it would be naïve to imagine that it could happen without the knowledge of the Union Home Ministry, which, till datam controls the police set up (in what is a major bone of contention between the state and the central government). It is important to recall here that Mr. P.V. Narasimaha Rao was India’s Home Minister at the time (having been appointed by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who took over as prime minister after his mother’s assassination). It was Mr. Rao who was responsible for ensuring the safety of ordinary citizens. If he felt that the police personnel were not enough or that they were unfit to deal with the situation, he had it within his powers to call the para-military forces to contain the situation.
Mr. Rao, who later became the country’s prime minister (ignore the fact that he is the only prime minister to have been charged with cheating, bribery and forgery in India) was, even then, seen as an able administrator , the main reason why he was chosen to be India’s Home minister by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. He could even have summoned the army if he thought the situation warranted it and yet Mr. Rao neither called the para-military nor the army until the worst of the carnage was over (not before 5,000 Sikhs had been massacred in an unprecedented show of mob violence in free India). And, if this is not bad enough, he went on the national telecast to say, enough has happened, we must stop now. Was this leader of the Congress party after Jawaharlal Nehru!) or, evidence of the official policy? For, did not Mr. Rajiv Gandhi justify the massacre with that infamous statement, when a greet tree falls, the earth shakes. ? If governance and a political system are worth anything, and we are not just talking about the world’s largest democracy, the killer mobs could not and would not have moved an inch towards their targets without the implicit and explicit sanction of the authorities and the highest authority of them all was the country’s home minister, Mr. Rao. I need say no more on Mr. Rao’s role or that of the police, which takes orders from the home ministry.