GOVERNMENT ORGANISED CARNAGE [Sarkari Qatl-e-Aam]
A CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS LEADING TO THE MASSACRE
OCTOBER 31, 1984
09.40 a.m. The killing of Mrs. Indira Gandhi
10.0 a.m. All top level officials informed, there is apprehension of violence.
10.30 a.m. Meeting at the prime minister’s residence to discuss the security aspects, including a proposal for calling the army. Among the participants were Lt. Governor of Delhi PG Gavai Police Commissioner, S C Tondon associate of Mrs. Gandhi’s.
11.00 a.m. All India Radio (AIR, the official broadcasting media) announces assassination attempt on Mrs. Gandhi.
12.0 a.m. AIR announces that Mrs. Gandhi has been hospitalised.
01.30 p.m. Mrs. Gandhi is declared dead.
02.0 p.m. The spot items outside various newspapers buildings announce that assassins of Mrs. Gandhi were two Sikhs and a Mona or cut Sikh.
04.0 p.m. Violence outside All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where Mrs. Gandhi has been hospitalised. Armed police watch mutely as Sikhs passing through the area are attacked and their turbans are burnt.
06.0 p.m. AIR announces Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. A little while later Rajiv Gandhi is sworn in as prime minister alongwith three cabinet ministers.
10.0 p.m. Reports of arson and killings from various parts of Delhi.
11.0 p.m. A prominent member of parliament informs the Home Minister about the violence but is assured that the situation is under control.
Midnight A meeting of the PMO and Home Ministry officials to take stock of the law and order situation in Delhi.
2.00a.m. The army is alerted
NOVEMBER 1, 1984
The streets of Delhi are filled with people throughout the day, with hundreds of them involved in burning, looting and killing and, numerous others trooping to Teen Murti House, the place where Mrs. Gandhi’s body was kept.
Eminent citizens and MPs approach Union Home Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, Minister of State for Home, P Shiv Shankar, Lt. Governor, P.G. Gavai and President Giani Zail Singh, seeking the army’s intervention to control the violence. Mr. Rao dithers over the suggestion of calling in the army and talks about the need to set up a Joint Control Room (JCR) of the police and army personnel. Meanwhile, violence in full-swing at many places in the capital.
02.0 p.m. The army is called
02.30 p.m. Mr. Shiv Shankar and Mr.Gavai discuss the situation and the latter says that the imposition of curfew is under consideration 4.00p.m. Former primer minister Charan Singh meets the president, apprises him of the seriousness of the situation and seeks the army’s intervention.
6.00p.m. Indefinite curfew declared in the city.
6.30 p.m. An MP contacts the Home Minister and informs him about the absence of the army.
8.0 p.m. The Prime Minister tells the leaders of the opposition that, not enough army personnel are available in the Capital. Mass killings of Sikhs continue, the army is nowhere to be seen or, when seen, not in action. Delhi’s air is thick with rumours that the city’s water has been poisoned. Some police stations are involved in spreading such rumours.
NOVEMBER 2, 1984
Mrs. Gandhi’s body still at Teen Murti. Shoot-at-sigh orders in Delhi and violence all around. Incoming trains to Delhi cancelled. People continue to flock Teen Murti.
8.00a.m. An MP informs the home minister over the phone about the security threat the Sikh train travellers and requests for armed Railway Police in trains.
Note: No protection was provided to Sikh passengers and 43 of them are reported to have been murdered (November 3, 1984, Time of India).
1.30 p.m. An MP contacts Mr. Shiv Shankar, who, in turn, tries to contact the Home Minister and Lt. Governor Gavai but to no avail.
Early afternoon, Sultanpuri and Mongolpuri report massive violence. Peace marches in the city by voluntary human rights groups. Mobs prowl the streets armed with iron rods, sticks and improvised weapons of assault right under the nose of the army.
Late afternoon a the Prime Minister appeals for peace with a statement that he would not allow violence to go on.
The violence continues through the night as survivors begin to gather in various police stations. The army fails to take any step to control the situation.
NOVEMBER 3, 1984
Curfew relaxation from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 a.m. Sporadic violence in the city. In the morning, a group of people meet the ruling Congress party and opposition leaders.
The funeral procession of Mrs. Gandhi’s begins from Teen Murti at 12.30 p.m. while Sikh survivors begin to gather in Gurudwaras and police stations.
4.0 p.m. Mrs. Gandhi’s cremation.
11.30 p.m. Lt. Governor P.G. Gavai proceeds on leave and the announcement of a new Lt. Governor in his place.
NOVEMBER 4, 1984
Curfew in the city. Super Bazaar is looted in West Patel Nagar while reports of violence, including, stabbing of people come in from Shahadra, Badarpur and Anand Parvat. The Union Cabinet is expanded.
50,000 Sikhs in relief camps, most of them set up by voluntary groups.
NOVEMBER 5, 1984
Curfew relaxed from 5.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. Shooting incidents in Pusa Mandi and two Sikhs (burnt alive)killed in Nathu Chowk. Utter confusion in most of the relief camps.
NOVEMBER 6, 1984
No curfew from 5.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. joint relief camp, with representatives of government and voluntary bodies, are set up. Their control is handed over from the army to the civil administration. Relief schemes are announced but no formal orders to this effect. Voluntary groups print application forms.