GOVERNMENT ORGANISED CARNAGE [Sarkari Qatl-e-Aam]
A careful study of the various reports on the carnage and hundreds of different eye-witness accounts makes it evident that the anti-Sikh violence was the result of a well-planned conspiracy. The madness and the blood-bath in which the Indian Capital drowned in the aftermath of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination, was not the result of any mass upsurge or emotional spontaneity. There was a method in the madness.
(A) MEETINGS WERE ORGANISED ON OCTOBER 31,1984
Following is a first person account of a taxi driver, Ram Singh (the name has been changed for his safety): A prominent Congress Party leader of Vinod Nagar called a special meeting on the evening of October 31. Present in the meeting were a notorious smuggler and some other known goondas. The meeting lasted until midnight.
The participants at the meeting, alongwith 200 to 250 people attacked my house on November 1. They used rods to break open the doors. We, Ram Singh’s two sons and 1, were sleeping. X ordered the mob to pour kerosene oil over us and burn us alive. I got up with a start, grabbed my kirpan and jumped out of the window. A neighbour, a Hindu from Himachal Pradesh, helped me escape.
(1) A Nihang serving in the Pandav Nagar Gurudwara, Surjit Singh, escaped death because he was away on the morning of November 1 but his wife , daughter Minu, aged nine, and a friend, Nahan Singh and his wife, were all burnt alive. I met Surjit Singh in the relief camp. He seemed to have gone mad.
(2) On October 31, in Khajoori Bhjanpur Block of trans Yamuna’s Gamrhi area, a prominent Congress Party leader belonging to the Gujjar community, held a meeting in which his son, who has a kerosene oil depot (state-sanctioned) and the principal of the local school participated. These people actually drew up a list of Sikh families to be attacked on November 1. According to a report on the Nanaksar relief camp, it is difficult to describe the barbrity and brutality with which people were killed in the following two-and-a-half-days. One hundred and fifty Sikhs belonging to the families whch took shelter in this camp were killed. Among the killed, 45 percent were from Nand Nagari, most of them from Block 1 to 3, Punjabi Muhalla and Bhajanpura. Block C reported the maximum killings. There are 72 windows in age group 20-45 from here alone.
(3) On October 31 evening, a congress party leader held a meeting in Kalekhan basti near Nizamuddin, in which members of the gujjar community besides a well-known doctor participate. All the participants were Congress workers or supporters. They too were busy making plans to be implemented in the following days.
(B) POLITICAL ORGANISERS OF THE CARNAGE
There were three types of Congress workers who organised the massacre:
Those who identified Sikh houses and other property and drew up proper lists, those who organised the mobs and directed them to the targets and, finally, those who provided the ‘arsenal’ for the carnage, including, petrol and kerosene oil. According to the survivors, most of the organisers were local leaders of the Congress party and some small-time criminals, besides the notorious ones. The suppliers of kerosene oil and petrol, to sell both of which requires a government permit, were either Congress leaders or those who had solid links with Congressmen, says the Nanaksar report.
Independent surveys too had the survivors (19 percent) and Hindu nieghbours of the victims (20 percent) blaming the Congress party leaders, workers and supporters for the anti-Sikh violence. The opinion of such a large number of people cannot be ignored without risking a serious breach of truth. Among those who openly instigated the mobs and spread rumours about the Sikh community having poisoned Delhi’s water, are a prominent Congress leader and an associate of his. Three others with them included a sweeper and a charas-smuggler. Many of those who led the attacks were smartly dressed and alighted from cars and jeeps, in what can be seen as solid pointers to their social and economic status.
According to our survey of three different groups of survivors from Patparganj, Khichripur and Kalyanpur, an off-white matador, which had about a dozen people inside, including, a Congress Councillor, went to Pandavnagar and the occupants of the vehicle were seen handing over sticks and rifles to the mob with the instruction that they should be used to eliminate Sikhs.
The list of people who went to Pandavnagar in the matador, includes, former Union Minister H K L Bhagat, former chief of the Delhi Congress Tazdar Babbar, a Congress Metropolitan Councillor and an employee of the Union Home Ministry, Mr. Vedi. However, no action has been taken against any one of them.
In Bhogal, two Congress workers, including one who has a sweets shop, personally directed the mob to loot Sikh shops, a direction that was religiously implemented.
In Mongolpuri, a white Ambassador car occupant, who could not hide his identity (a Congress Leader) despite wearing a mask, was seen giving instructions to a mob. Shortly afterwards, the nearby Gurudwara was burnt down.
In east Vinodnagar, white khadi-clad young men came in two buses and led the local goons gathered there to attack the houses and other property of Sikhs. It was under their direction that Sikhs were burnt alive.
In Jehangirpuri, the man who instigated the mob to kill and loot Sikhs, was a Congress leader. He has been repeatedly named by the survivors as the person who helped identify the property and other establishments of Sikhs.
According to an affidavit filed by Trilokpuri’s Gurdip Kaur, about 500 people came to Block 32 on November 1 and although it was not possible for her to identify a majority of them she recognised some of the killers responsible for the murder of her family members. She has identified Tello, Manu, Jagga and his wife, Draupdi, Kishori Jamandar (a meat seller), Rampal Saroj (Congress party goon under whose supervision many Sikhs were brutally killed), Rooplal and his three sons, who, she said, were notorious thieves.
Rampal Saroj, said Gurdip Kaur, went to their street and assured the Sikh families that no harm would be done to them. He even told them to stay put in their houses as the only means of escaping the mob violence. Later, she said, she could not believe her eyes when she saw him leading the killers to their street. He attacked their houses and men within five hours of the first visit which was supposed to be a friendly one. Many Sikhs were beaten to death or burnt alive under his supervision, she added.
(C) THE PROCESS OF IDENTIFICATION OF SIKH HOUSES AND PROPERTY
The process of identificationwas as neatly planned as the violence that followed. (1) Goons went around on two-wheelers and other vehicles from house to house before coming back with more people. (2) School registers were searched to identify Sikh houses. (3) Ration card and Voters’ lists, which can only be procured from official sources, were another method to identify Sikh houses. (4) The houses and other properth were marked with alphabets X, D (D) and S in an operation akin to what the Nazis did to the establishments of Jews in Germany. Shopkeeper from Bhajanpura market was personally seen marking the Sikh houses ahd shops.
(D) WEAPONS FOR THE CARNAGE
Kerosene oil was procured from ration shop owners and kerosene depot owners, some of the owners having been intimidated into supplying it but many were more than willing contributors and, later, even participated directly in the mob violence.
The ploteers did not need any intoxicant before hatching the plant but the mobs apparently needed liquor before they could go for the savage killings. Liquor bottles were distributed free to the mobs before the carnage.
In some cases, kerosene oil was mixed with phophorous (many witnesses referred to it as white powder) and another chemical, obviously, for ‘fast results.’
Diesel and petrol were procured from petrol pumps and private vehicles.
(E) HOW THE MOBS WERE ORGANISED
(1) About 500 people armed with sticks, iron rods, soda-water bottles and Kerosene oil-tin went to Harinagar Ashram in two groups. One group landed there at 9.45 a.m. on November 1 by a local train and another one at 11 a.m. the same morning by Narmada Express. Most of the people in these groups were from the jhuggi-jhonpri colonies (where the poorest of the urban poor live) but they were led by a Congress leader and his three associates. The groups divided their ‘work’, with one heading towards Banglasahib Gurudwara and the other towards Shaalimar Bagh, a predominantly Sikh colony.
(2) In Jehangirpuri, the mobs included some local residents and people from the neighbouring villages of Bhalsava Ramgarh and Badli.
(3) The killers came from the neighbouring areas either by bus (ironically, the state bus services were not discontinued) or, just walked it down.
(4) In Sultanpuri, the mob came from Pooth village alongwith local goons from Block C-2, C-3, C-4, and C-6. I have the names of all these goondas and can furnish them to the authorities, provided they are interested.
(5) In Punjabi Bagh and Madipur, the people who led the mobs were the same who organise political and other rallies for the Congress party.
The then Lt. Governor of Delhi, Mr. P.G. Gavai, at a press conference on November 4, 1984, referred to the colonies where the riotous mobs were most violent. These are the same colonies which provided the mass of people attending the Congress rallies before 1984. And, hardly any political rally, as we know in India, is spontaneously attended. Mongolpuri, Sultanpuri, Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri were the tasting ground of the Congress leaders’ organising ability. According to a report in the Statesman (November 5, 1984), in Jehangirpuri, the mob killed a group of people during the anti-Sikh violence merely on suspicion that these people had not voted for Congress in the proceeding years municipal corporation election.
(F) THE MOB MAKE-UP
(1) Notorious criminals, whose names are linked to many offences in the official records, were involved in the violence and there are many who would stand witness against them.
(2) People from the Scheduled and other lower castes such as Khatik, Chamaar, Purbias, Jamandaara and Bhangis, most of whom breed pigs.
(3) Other backward castes like Jats, Gujjars and Ahirs, many of whom were poor land-owners (whose agricultural land was later acquired by the government for establishing urban residential and commercial buildings).
(G) THE KILLERS
The survivors of the carnage say that most of the killers were Jat land-owners, Bhangis and notorious criminals from their own areas. Some of the killers have openly claimed that they were paid a fees by Congress leaders to kill loot Sikhs. Even before the carnage, the common man in their areas was scared of them because they were always drunk and fishing for trouble. Survivors from Bhopal and Sultanpuri have alleged that some cops were among the killers. So many years after they were attacked, the victims’ families are still in dread of the following three categories of killers—the cops, political leaders and Gujjars. Even among them, there are some who are believed to be more savage than the others including X who is a notorious criminal operating in Gamrhi, Bhajanpura and Khajoori and is a close associate of a Congress leader. He has licensed revolver and played a direct role in both planning the massacre and the killings.
A dreaded criminal from the Gujjar community who was supplying milk to a Sikh flat-owner in Nand Nagri, is known to have murdered the family during the massacre.
(H) THE METHODOLOGY OF VIOLENCE
The method of attack depended on the numbers constituting the mob. If the number was large enough, the mob attacked Gurudwaras, Sikh houses, shops and other property simultaneously. For instance, in Harinagar Ashram, the mob divided the ‘work’ between two groups who went into different directions for killing and looting. However, in cases where the mob was small, say, just 100 to 150 people, the violence followed a different course.
The first targets were Gurudwaras, followed by houses and shops.
The organised way in which the massacre was carried out leaves no room for
doubt that the killers were all highly ‘skilled’ at their job.
(I) REPEATED INSPECTION OF SIKH EST ABLISHMENTS
The mob came repeatedly to Sikh houses and shops until it got its victims. In Bhogal, the mob set fire to many shop at 11 a.m. on November 1 and came back three hours later to make sure that the job had been done well. In Jehangirpuri, where it had set fire to people in their houses, the same exercise, of repeating the visit, was carried out.
(J) SLOGANS COINED FOR THE MASSACRE
Slogans, the life-matter of all systematic campaigns, catchily coined by the Congress party members, played a very significant role in prompting the anti-Sikh violence.
The slogans were directed at three points : Emphasising the greatness of Mrs Gandhi and the need for revenge against the Sikh community, marking the entire Sikh community as anti-national and prompting the crowds to eliminate the community.
For instance, look at the following slogans :
Jab tak sooraj chand rahega, Indira tera naam rahega
Khoon ka badla khoon
(Indira’s name will live as long as the sun and the moon do. Seek blood for blood.)
Sardaron ko jala do, namon nishan mita do
(Burn the Sikhs alive and let no trace of them remain)
Hindu Muslim bhai bhai, sardaron ki karo safai
(Hindus and Muslims are brothers but let no Sikh remain)
Rumours, again potent catalysts for creating mass hysteria, were also spread systematically, and, in three different stages.
On the evening of October 31, just one rumour did the rounds. Mrs Gandhi had been killed and the Sikh community in the Capital and elsewhere was celebrating. Doordarshan, the official electronic media, with a monopoly over all India telecast, focused its coverage on the assassination by repeatedly showing Mrs Gandhi’s corpse and by declaring time and again that she had been killed by two Sikh security guard. Doordarshan, evidently, played a role even in instigating the masses by continually airing the blood-thirsty Congress supporters who were shouting frenzied slogans, khoon ka badla khoon (seek blood for blood).
The rumour about Sikhs celebrating Mrs Gandhi’s assassination (by distributing sweets and doing ‘bhangra’) was so strong that even the literate population believed it and was outraged by it, although not one single person in our survey could later confirm that he or she had personally seen or heard any Sikh celebrate the killing.
On November 1, When Sikhs were being hacked and burnt alive and their women were being gang-raped, three rumours, with the apparent aim of ensuring that mass sympathy does not turn in their favour, were systematically spread by the political workers of the ruling party, famed for their skills at propaganda. The rumours being heard were that every Gurudwara that was burnt was actually a godown for arms and ammunition, that after the first round of killings, Sikhs were preparing to strike back. ‘They will strike at night and they will kidnap Hindu children, were the kind of rumours that turned even the most neutral citizen against the community. Some people, including small-time workers and labourers even asked their employers to keep their children and valuables in their safe custody. No evidence of any one Gurudwara having even a single weapon of attack was found but the rumour about Gurudwaras being arsenals of weapons had already turned the mass psyche against the Sikhs.
One very bizarre slogan which emanated from the Chandni Chowk police station was, raat hamari, din tumhara (the day is yours and the night ours for killings). The source of this slogan was that the police, which did not get its share of the booty from a Sikh jeweller’s shop in Chandni Chowk, raided the shop in the night and grabbed whatever was left. Although the slogan actually meant that the mob will loot in the day time and the cops at night, it was twisted to attribute retaliatory strikes by the Sikh community. The truth is that some Sikhs, who had licensed weapons for their defence had no time to use them because of the sheer scale and suddenness of violence against them. The third and the worst rumour, was that some Sikhs had poisoned Delhi’s water. Anonymous callers phoned up newspaper offices and that of the Delhi Municipal Corporation to say that ordinary citizens should avoid drinking water. This rumour, naturally had a very negative impact on the entire city and fuelled mistrust against Sikhs besides, of course, stripping them of sympathy for their plight.
When train-loads of dead Sikhs were arriving in Delhi the rumour that was systematically spread was that Sikhs of Punjab were sending trainloads of Hindu dead bodies. Apparently, it was important to reverse the truth as an indication to the killer mobs not to halt their job of eliminating every trace of the Sikh community.
An analysis of the four days of mass-scale and unprecedented violence directed against an entire community proves amply, if proof is needed, that the plotters were moving like ace chess players. The most notorious leader, political or community, held meeting in his own area and assigned jobs to people- of mobilising mobs, distributing weapons of assault identifying Sikh houses and shops and of making repeated rounds of these places to complete the task of killing. Gurudwaras, rumoured to be stock-houses of arms, were the first target of the mobs.
The aim of the violence was to systematically annihilate Sikhs, both mentally and physically. The slogans, as is evident from the analysis above, were very cleverly and carefully coined.
BACK ROUND OF KILLERS
A close study of the mob character in east and west Delhi (where the local leaders instigated the mob), shows that the mobs actually came from neighbouring villages, where a majority of the population is made up of Gujjars and Jats. They were brought to the urban colonies by bus and other vehicles. Scheduled Caste too played a major role in the massacre.
Even more significant is the fact that in Trilokpuri, Mongolpuri and Sultanpuri, local Congress party workers and leaders led the killer mobs. It may be recalled here that these colonies were set up under the Congress party’s urbanisation programme and the population here has since been (since 1985) a solid chunk of political support for the party. The Congress party, which is losing ground in every part of every Indian State, still commands major political influence in such colonies and even today, party leaders organise their rallies on the strength of these supporters. These new colonies, boasted a Congress party leader, are the party’s mistress.
Jats and Gujjars from surrounding villages and townships also played a very important role in the massacre particularly, in west and south Delhi areas. Most of these people were once land-owners in places like Mohammedpur, Munirka and Ber Sarai. They hit the jackpot when their land was acquired by the Delhi administration as part of an urbanisation drive. Prior to the land acquisition, however they were very poor because their land was almost barren, not fit for any agricultural use. So, they, like most poverty-stricken people, had to resort to several under-hand and illegal ways to eke out a living.
In the post-land acquisition phase, the Sultanpuri Jats and Gujjars not only came into money but also political clout and it is an unstained rule for all politically ambitious people that, without the support of Jats and Gujjars. No election can be won. Unfortunately, there are many members of these communities in the Delhi police force and are posted in these colonies, so that there is a clear nexus between the criminals and the cops in these areas. The 1984 violence is ample proof of that nexus. In the process of urbanisation, although a majority of the Scheduled Caste population did not get land and other monetary benefits, many of them were given government jobs under the government’s policy of job reservation quotas for these and other backward castes. Bhangis got jobs in the Delhi Municipal Corporation and Dhanak caste people (considered to be the lowest) also got similar work in various government establishment establishments in these newly-urbanised colonies and are the known supporters of the Congress party alongwith Jats and Gujjars. As is evident from the analysis above, they all played a key role in the anti-Sikh violence.
It would be relevant to quote some statistics regarding the demographic structure of the Indian Capital. Delhi has a population of 73 percent Hindus and seven-and-a-half percent Sikhs. Most of the Sikhs settled here after the country’s partition and prior to 1947, the Sikh population was just a little over one percent of the total.