Saturday, December 03, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

The Carnage

 

While on 31st October, violence in the Capital was confined mainly to areas in South Delhi, and round about the AIIMS, next morning it spread like wild fire all over Delhi. As the Press reported, violence occurred in all the urban zones of Delhi-Centre, East, West, North, South – and even spread to the rural areas of North Delhi.

 

In the Central areas, the most affected localities were Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Janpath, Connaught Circus, Sadar Bazar and Gurudwara Rakab Ganj.

In the East, violence occurred in various Trans-Yamuna colonies, such as Gandhi Nagar, Shahdara, Trilokpuri, Kalyanpuri, Vinod Nagar, Pandav Nagar, Gamri, Bhajanpura and Nand Nagari.

In the West, the serious trouble spots were Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri, Moti Nagar, Naraina, Patel Nagar, Inderpuri, Punjabi Bagh, Paschim Vihar, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar and Janakpuri.

In the North, some of the worst incidents occurred at Ashok Vihar, Jehangirpuri, Gulabi Bagh, Kashmere Gate, Kingsway Camp, and Vegetable Mandi of Azadpur.

The worst affected areas in South Delhi were: South Extension, Safdarjang Enclave, Kalkaji, Khan Market, Greater Kailash, Sarojini Nagar, Maharani Bagh, Defence Colony, Nizammuddin, Bhogal, Hari Nagar Ashram, NOIDA, Okhla Industrial Estate, Kotla Mubarakpur, Panchsheela Enclave, Gulmohar Park, Chittaranjan Park, Lajpat Nagar, and Vasant Vihar.

Hundreds of Gurudwaras were set on fire. Mobs tried to attack even the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj near Central Secretariat and Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara at Chandni Chowk.

Shops owned by Sikhs were looted or set on fire indiscriminately at various places, such as at Azadpur or at Nehru Place near Kalkaji. A big cloth shop, S.M. & Sons, just next to the Khadi Gramodyog in Regal Building in Connaught Circus was set ablaze as was the nearby Marina Hotel.

A number of cimena halls owned by Sikhs were reduced to ashes such as the Janak Cinema, Deep at Ashok Vihar, and Chanderlok in Chittaranjan Park.

Even schools were not spared from arson and destruction such as the Guru Har Kishan Public School in Vasant Vihar, two of its branches at Sarojini Nagar and Loni Road, the Mata Jai School at Ashok Vihar, and the Takshila Public School at Loni Road.

Vehicles appearing to be owned by Sikhs and taxi stands manned by them were destroyed.

The scene at Lohia Hospital on the evening of Thursday, November 1, was an indication of what was happening in the city. Men with stab wounds, pellet injuries, lathi abrasions and others who had been stoned and beaten up were being brought in every minute. Five people had been brought in dead and as many died later. In one ward alone (ward No. 10), the register showed that 114 men had been brought in till 5 P.M.

Some Sikhs had been brought in from the railway stations. All were dragged out, kicked, and stones lying on the railway track were used to assault them.

All traces of the existence of an effective law and order machinery disappeared as mobs ran riot. The po1ice appeared to be by and large unwilling to handle the situation and the Fire Brigade telephone brought little response. Senior police officers refused to give any authoritative information. No part of Delhi was trouble free. All hell, it appeared, had been let loose.

After visiting several localities spread all over Delhi – places far apart as, for instance, Nizammuddin and Jehangirpuri – and interviewing a large number of survivors and their neighbours, we find that:

  1. Systematic violence, as distinct from sporadic, had erupted in the Capital on November 1 between 9 and 11 O’clock in the morning;

     

  2. The initial target of attack was the Gurudwara – the supposed arsenal of the Sikhs and the symbol of their collective faith and courage – followed by loot, arson and killing of the Sikhs: first the men, particularly youths, then members of their families;

     

  3. The duration of violence differred as between the Centre and the Periphery; in centrally located areas of the Capital, for instance, it lasted from morning till evening of November 1, while in more inaccessible Resettlement Colonies of Outer and East Delhi it lasted much longer – between 48 to 72 hours.

Below are the details of some of the localities which were especially examined. These details are classified according to the date, time, target and duration of the violence.

(a) Jehangirpuri Resettlemeat Colony (Blocks A, C, D, E, EE, G, I, J and K):

Before the violence erupted in Jehangirpuri proper on November 1, it began at about 9.15 A.M. at Azadpur near the Sabzi Mandi where a crowd looted 8 trucks laden with fruits parked in front of a Sikh motor mechanic’s shop and then burned these down as also the shop. Swelling up in strength the crowd then proceeded to Jehangirpuri, where at around 10 O’clock it first attacked the three Gurudwaras and burnt them one after another, subsequently it started looting and burning the shops, a factory, a petrol station, a number of trucks, scooters and houses all belonging to the Sikhs. Gathering momentum, the violence continued till 6 O’clock in the evening till all the Sikhs they could seize had been killed. A Municipal Councillor, xxxx, was seen inciting the mob. Several persons involved in the violence were recognised by the survivors. One xxxx who resides in K Block had a list of Sikh houses, and once the houses were identified, they were set on fire, the men hiding there were dragged out, beaten up severely and then killed. The violence continued sporadically till November 3 when the Army arrived and rescued the survivors.

(b) Mongolpuri Resettlement Colony:

On November 1, at about 10.15 A.M. a crowd of men led by 8 to 10 village leaders collected in front of the Congress-I office; they had come from the direction of the Flyover after having earlier burnt down 2 Sikh factories and a house on their way to Mongolpuri. Inside the Congress-I office sat 50-60 men getting ready to go to Teen Murti House for ‘darshan’ of the late Prime Minister. The leaders stopped them from going to Teen Murti House, instead they were found moving towards the Gurudwara at Block F which they attacked and burnt down. By then Congress-I sympathisers were brought down from the nearby Pooth village in a DTC bus and the crowd was about 200 strong. Round about 11 A.M. the second Gurudwara was also attacked and burnt down. When 4 houses belonging to the Sikhs were being attacked, the Sikhs resisted with their talwars. The crowd retreated, went back to the Congress-I office and soon the local Congress leader went rushing to the Mongolpuri Police Station to complain against the armed Sikhs. The police suddenly became active and came down. The Sikhs were arrested and were brought to the Police Station, were disarmed there and ordered to go back to their homes. On the way each one of them was slaughtered. The crowd by now was 400-500 strong.

Mr. Gurdeep Singh, President of the Singh Sabha Gurudwara, Block R, Mongolpuri, has given a vivid account of how his two brothers, Mr. Kulwant Singh and Mr. Rattan Singh, were killed and his sister-in-law raped on November l, in his FIR (No. 176 dated November11) lodged with the Mongolpuri Police Station. The following persons – Kalia (a scooter driver who lives in Gali No. 6), Seva Ram (a kerosene depot dealer), Shankcr, Sambhu and his brother, 2 persons whose father is a vegetable vendor and Goverdhan (of Gali No. 4) – attacked his brothers with arms, dragged them out of the house, assaulted and injured them grievously, poured kerosene oil or some other inflammable substance and burnt them alive. Afterwards, Shanti (a tailor who resides in Gali No. 5, Block O, Mongolpuri) accompanied by 4 others (whose names are not known but they can be identified) criminally assaulted Mrs. Devinder Kaur, wife of Mr. Kulwant Singh, under duress and threat of murder. Mr. Gurdip Singh has given the names and addresses of the ’murderers and rapists’ in his FIR but none of them have been apprehended upto now.

(c) Budh Vihar

According to Mr. Piara Singh of Budh Vihar: “On 1-11-1984 at l2 at noon, Nishan Saheb (flag) of the Gurudwara was thrown down and Gurudwara’s property 1ooted, safe and other things taken away. Then, after looting the houses of the Sikhs and setting them afire, they went back. About 3000-3500 people were there. After that the situation calmed down.

“At night, they came again. At about 9.30 P.M. they were beating up a man named Jiti. I had earlier asked my father to go to a nearby house of a Hindu brother. My father and Mokhar Singh’s father had gone to a neighbour’ house. Leaving Jiti crying and sobbing about 50-60 people rushed to the house where my father was hiding himself. The Hindu brother of that house asked my father to leave the house. My father ran towards the other side. Some people saw him running. - They hit him on the head and dragged him to the street. There about 40-50 men beat him up with lathis. My father became unconscious. They left two men with my father so that if any one would turn up to save him they would beat him. The two men had lathis and rods. Rest of the men went towards the Nala and shouted, “Is there any son of a snake? Bring him out.” After some time, some people came and threw down the dead body into the Nala. Where they beat him, there blood and only blood was to be seen. At 11 O’clock, we came out for patrolling which was started by the members of our locality. I gave up my sleep and started working with them. After sometime, I was surrounded by some people who said that I should be killed because I am a son of a Sikh. One man pitied on-me and said that I should be freed because I never visited a Gurudwara. People left me.

“In the morning, the same man who saved me the night before came to tell me that danger was still there and that I should run away. I set out at the same time. A voice came from behind, A Sardar is going. Catch him. Beat him.” I ran towards the other side where I saw a man going by a bicycle. Sitting on his cycle I went to a relative’s house in Rani Bagh and when the camps started, I came to the camp at Shakur Pur.”

Another account regarding Budh Vihar is provided by Mr. Mohinder Singh, a resident of G-1 Gurudwara at Budh Vihar. He does Katha and Path (recite the prayers and explain their meanings). His son, Satnam Singh, who has been killed, was the priest of the Gurudwara. In the words of Mohinder Singh: ”On the morning of the first November, we did not take out the procession (Prabhat Pheri) that we had to take out on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s birthday, as we were grieved at the sad demise of our Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. In Phase-Il, the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib had started at Kartar Singh’s house.

We went there. My duty was from 9 A.M. to 11. A.M. I gave my duty. At 11.30, too much noise started coming. ‘The family was asked to terminate the recitation. We stopped. Kartar Singh and I hid ourselves in some Hindu brother’s house. At about five in the evening, many people came there and shouted that the Sikhs be brought out. Some people came in and dragged out Kartar Singh. Then they started beating him badly. Ladies started shrieking. They asked us to go. We went out after climbing the wall. Hiding ourselves in the bushes, we reached the Gurudwara at one at night. The Gurudwara, we saw, was wholly burnt down and the walls had collapsed. We went to Mr. Bakshish Singh’s house and hid ourselves there. Next day, my son got up and went to the Gurudwara. People saw him there and burnt him alive. After that I hid myself in Mohinder Singh’s house. There were four persons. On 3-11-1984 at 4 O’clock many people come and killed Joginder Singh and Mohinder Singh. I and one other person remained safe. After that, hiding myself I reached Shakar Pur Camp.”

(d) Sultanpuri Resettlement Colony

On November 1, round about 3 P.M. the A-4 Block in Sultanpuri was attacked by a 200 strong mob. They were seen coming from the direction of Mongolpuri. The timing of the attack here had to be different from the morning as in all other areas to afternoon because the killing and looting in Nangloi and Mongolpuri and Budh Vihar took a much longer time than planned. The pattern, however, was followed as elsewhere: the mob destroyed the Gurudwara first, then burnt the Granthi, then the looting began and the arson, and finally the male Sikhs were dragged out and killed. The destruction of this A-4 Block must have been total for the attack continued till past midnight, and after an inter-mission at about 4 A.M. the orgy continued again, unabated till 9 A.M. on November 2. After destroying A-4 Block the mob was reinforced with people from nearby villages, jhuggis, resettlement colonies and neighbouring Blocks. Congress-I leaders like xxxx and local goondas like xxxx and xxxx from C-2, and the kerosene supplier xxxx from xxxx and police officials xxxx and neighbours xxxx and X X X could be identified by the survivors from P-1 Block. The killers were from outside – Gujars, jamadars and Bhangis – backed and used by Congress-I ringleaders, local goondas and police. On November 2, the C-4 Block was attacked by a huge mob in themorning. The Sikhs were dragged out and beaten mercilessly. Some of them came out from other Blocks and in self-defence brought out their swords. The police were informed. Arriving promptly, they disarmed the Sikhs, arrested some, shot a number of them and ordered the rest of them to go back to their Blocks. Immensely encouraged, swollen in numbers, the mob attacked the Sikhs, pulled them out, doused them with kerosene, burned them alive, with the active encouragement of the police. The destruction was systematic; shouting no seed of a Sikh would be allowed to grow’ the mob did not spare even the little boys. After the C-4 Block, the A-2 Block was also attacked and men burnt alive. The number of widows in Sultanpuri alone is 144. The duration of the attack was, perhaps, the longest in this colony 1asting three full days.

As elsewhere, the carnage followed a very definite pattern. First, the houses of the Sikhs were identified; their names ascertained from the ration shops; the oil supplier had the kerosene and other inflammable material ready for distribution; killers were got together both from outside as well as from the neighbourhood; weapons used were iron rods, daggers and axes. The killings were followed by extensive looting and arson; what was new in this colony was the manhandling and in certain Blocks raping and abduction of young women and girls. The date was adhered to and also the target. As everywhere the survivors mentioned the Congress - I functionaries by name being behind the violence.

(e) Kalyanpuri Resettlement Colony:

On November 1, at about 9.45 A.M. it was reported in the Gurudwara at Block 36 that a Sikh had been killed near Chand Cinema; the Sikhs assembled there, got nervous but decided to defend the Gurudwara; a little later – round about 10 A.M., a 200-350 strong crowd was seen coming along the road leading to Block 33; it reached the Gurudwara at Block 36 in no time and attacked it. Most of the Sikhs trying to defend it were hacked to death and the Gurudwara was set on fire. The crowd then surged towards the residential area where some of the Sikhs had fled; on the way the Sikh shops which had already been identified were looted and burnt; then the mob rushed towards the Sikh houses which also had been identified earlier and marked. The Sikhs resisted the attack and trying to save themselves stood on the roofs of their houses; some of. them accompanied by their Hindu neighbours went to Dr. Ashok, their Congress-I Municipal Councillor for help; he refused and would not even allow them to use his telephone to call the police. By that time, the crowd had swelled up to 500 and had rounded Block 13; instead of breaking open each house in that Block they made holes on the back wall of the houses and entered the rooms in large numbers; overpowering the Sikhs, killed 32 of them and looted and burnt their houses. Then they went to Blocks 12 and l1 and killed 6 more men there and burnt their houses. Violence continued till the afternoon of November 3, when the dead had been cremated and no other evidence of death was left; except in the silence of death and the charred remains of wood where once houses had stood. And there was Nanaki with her four tiny kids showing us her one precious possession – the single blood-smeared finger of her husband who had been burnt alive before her eyes and his band slashed off so that they could grab the gold ring he still bad on his finger.

(f) Trilokpuri Resettlement Colony:

The violence began on November 1 around 9.45 A.M. A crowd of 400-500 saw a Sikh on the main road. The scooter of a passerby was stopped, petrol was taken out and the Sikh was soaked in petrol and burnt. At that time, in front of the main road outside Shri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara of Block 36, two policemen were seen. A lecturer resident of Mayur Vihar, who got down from a DTC bus at the corner of Trilokpuri and walked the distance to his house, approached the policemen and requested them to call more policemen to protect the Sikhs from the crowd which was big and determined. The policemen then moved away. When the policemen disappeared, the crowd attacked the Gurudwara, killed six Sikhs including the Granthi of the Gurudwara and his son who were trying to defend it and put them to the fire, using kerosene and tyres. The Gurudwara was in flames within minutes. The chief assailant was one whose mother is an important functionary of the local Congress-I unit. The crowd then surged ahead on the road to Sector 32 from two directions. By 11 A.M. the crowd reached the two corners of Sector 32. Some persons tried to pacify it without success. XXXX of Congress-l was apparently leading the crowd on the side of the open fields, where transmission towers are located. On the other side is located a Mosque, which was occupied by many persons some of whom were identified as local sweepers. The brickbats started from the Mosque, the Sikhs tried to defend from their roof tops. The crowd from the side of the open field was deterred because five houses of Muslims sympathetic to Congress-I stood as buffer, their members trying to appeal for peace. Four policemen near the Mosque did not intervene. Meanwhile a crowd from Chilla Gaon, which is about half a kilometer in the east, had attacked the Gurudwara of Block 32 near the Balmiki Temple. The Sikhs there defended it till 3.30 P.M. At that time two Sikhs were seen running towards the open fields, crossing the barbed wire and hiding themselves in the tall grass. The crowd set the field on fire at several corners. There was no way left to those Sikhs and they were burnt alive.

As soon as the Chilla Gaon crowd burnt the Gurudwara and surged towards Block 32, the resistance collapsed. All male members were killed; except six, one of them an old man of 65. Women and children were forced out of the houses and the killed persons were burnt with cots and kerosene. Some were dragged out and the houses were set on fire. 190 houses in five rows were burnt, nothing remained inside. Human hair and blood stains could be detected even on the 11th November. The unofficially estimated death toll is 450 but the official figure is 95.

Some girls were picked up by villagers from Chilla Gaon. On 7th November, 6 girls were recovered by the local police. After 4 P.M. on the 1st the crowd had swelled to 2000, the residents of neighbouring Blocks had also joined in those nefarious activities. But some Muslims of Block 32 as well as of other Blocks saved some Sikh males. Our eye-witness Joginder Singh was saved by Kadir Ahmed of Block 32. Joginder Singh escaped at 5 A.M. on 2nd morning, after shaving his beard and trimming his hair and dressed up as a goonda. He ran away to his relations in the city and returned on 7th November and reported to the police.

The riot continued unabated till it stopped in the afternoon of November 3. There was not much then to do either. The picture was one of utter desolation, everywhere there was the stench of blood and rotten flesh and dead bodies were strewn all over, piles of burnt hair lay by their side. It was the day of dogs and vultures.

(g) Hari Nagar Ashram (New Delhi):

Violence began around 11 O’Clock in the morning on November 1; a huge mob over 1000 strong split into two and proceeded to destroy simultaneously Bala Saheb Gurudwara and the Sikh pocket in the Shalimar Theatre area. The Gurudwara was badly damaged, most of the houses on the Bala Saheb Gurudwara Road were reduced to ashes; a young man was dragged out of his house and doused with kerosene and was burnt alive on the road. His 80 year-old mother had gone off her mind. In Shalimar Theatre 45 to 50 trucks, cars, scooters, 2 buses and shops, 8 houses with all their belongings were set on fire. Today the survivors have been reduced to paupers. A Government contractor of electronics and his two young sons were beaten to death. Harbhajan Singh, a truck repairer, was dragged out of his house in Sunlight Colony, his thigh was cut off first and then he was thrown into the flames. For three days, dogs could be seen sniffing at the charred remains. But for the protection Hindu neighbours gave to the Sikh young men – many more would have been butchered. Two women gave birth to premature infants, they were also taken care of and sent to Jivan Nagar Hospital.

Congress-I leaders, particularly XXXX, the Municipal Councillor and his cronies XXXX and XXXX were active. A public carrier XXXX supplied tons of pebbles which were used to stone the buildings - even to-day the houses show big holes. The construction labour also joined in the game of brick batting.

What stands out is the behaviour of the Police- all appeals to them to control the mob fell on deaf ears; one of them was heard telling to an old women of 70 who had asked him to get a little milk for an infant “yes, yes feed it for half an hour, we are going to finish off your infants”) Adhe ghante ke liye dudh pillao, tumhare bacchon ko katenge).

The violence which began in the morning, stopped at night on November 1, lasting about 8-10 hours. On November 2, the Army was posted there and several people were rescued. And this happened not in far off colonies across the Yamuna but right inside the Capital, hardly 3 kilometres from the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

(h) Nizammudin

Round about 10 O’clock in the morning of Novembern1, violence erupted in Nizammudding; 86 trucks owned by Sikhs and their houses were burnt down. Sikh taxis in the taxi stand were also set on fire. Coming inside the residential area the mob set on fire the house of a Sikh in ‘C’ Block. There is little doubt that the house had been identified earlier. The mob by then 1000 strong, marched to Bhogal to beat to death six Sikhs on the Flyover in presence of 20 policemen who just looked on. The mob was joined by white kurta-pyjama clad youong men who came in two buses. In a big barat like procession preceded by an oil tanker and followed by a police jeep, the crowd passed through Bhogal Market and burnt any number of cars, scooters, looted Sikh shops on Jangpoura Road and damaged the Bhogal Singh Asabha Gurudwara. The Hindu residents prevented its being burnt down, they were afraid that their own houses would catch fire if the oil tanker had been used to douse the Gurudwara building for setting it ablaze. Five policemen were seek drinking tea brought to them by XXXXX, XXXX, and XXXX, all of whom were identified by the Khalsa of the Gurudwara as being bad characters of the locality.

(i) Kalkaji

Eye-witness report of November 1 by a student who travelled by Mudrika Bus from Punjabi Bagh to AIIMS, then to Kalkaji, starting at 9.30 A.M., reaching Kalkaji by 11 A.M.:

At 9.30 A.M. on November 1, when I boarded the Mudrika Bus from Punjabi Bagh in order to go to AIIMS/Safdarjang Hospital, the atmosphere seemed to me to be rather quiet and peaceful. But as soon as the bus reached Raja Garden, a few goonds-looking characters led by a white kurta clad man jumped into the bus and started looking for Sikh passengers. Since there were no Sikhs in this bus, it was allowed to proceed undisturbed. At Naraina on the way, I saw a few men dressed in kurta pyjamas, beating a Sikh young man mercilessly. The Sikh youth in order to save his life, ran into a nearby sweet-shop but he was not allowed to enter. All this I could see clearly from the bus……… when I reached Kalkaji at 11 A.M. (on November 1) I noticed that in quite a few places shops had been looted and doors and windows had been smashed. A few policemen, some of whom were armed, stood silently near Gali No. 14, Gobindpuri. In fact the policemen were occasionally making provocative and instigative statements.

“At 11.30 A.M. on November1, I was sitting and chatting at a friend’s place in Kalkaji DDA Colony when we heard a big noise. Coming out, we saw a lady advancing towards us shrieking very loudly, the same lady whom I had earlier seen shouting and shrieking at Kalkaji. “Burn the Sikhs, kill them, then only the dogs will learn what can be the result of murdering the leader of the nation.” On asking one learnt that she was a well-known local activist of the Congress-I. She went away shouting. On her two sides, were walking certain people who looked like professional gangsters and who were armed with iron rods and lathis etc. As the Congess-I lady left, some of the bad characters put the local Gurudwara ablaze. One persons had some explosive material in his hands which he started throwing successively. The mob took about half an hour to do all this. When they got convinced that the Gurudwara had burned, they went away; about half an hour later when the local people felt that the bad characters had gone away, the non-Sikh people got together and, women and youth alike, they started taking out things from inside the Gurudwara and saved some of the valuables.”

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