Pattern – A Method In The Madness
A clear and distinct pattern of violence emerged on analyzing the various reports and interviewing a number of survivors. There was a method in the madness that overwhelmed Delhi after the assassination.
A) Meetings on 31st October Night:
There is evidence that in several areas local Congress-I leaders held meeting on the night of October 31st and these preceded attacks and killings of the Sikhs.
In Vinod Nagar (East Delhi) according to a survivor Ram Singh (name changed), a taxi driver, a prominent Congress-I local leader of Vinod Nagar called a meeting in the evening of 31st October which was attended by xxxx, xxx (Bhaiswala), xxx (a known smuggler) and a few others; the meeting went on till midnight. These men along with 200-250 residents attacked his house early in the morning of November 1, broke down the door with iron rods and seeing all three of them (Ram Singh and his 2 sons) still sleeping, xxx told his friends to pour kerosene on them and burn them to death. Ram Singh woke up, took out his kirpan and leapt out through the broken door-xxxx stood back and all the others fled. A Hindu neighbour from Himachal Pradesh helped him to escape.
Surjit Singh- a Sevadar of a local Gurudwara in Vinod Nagar area (Nihang Singh Gurudwara, Pandav Nagar) had left his house early in the morning and thus escaped death but his wife (Tej Kaur) and their 9 years old daughter Minoo, his friend Nahan Singh and Nahan’s wife were all burnt alive on the morning of November 1. This sudden unbearable loss had nearly unhinged Surjit Singh’s mind when we saw him in the Camp.
(b) In Khajori-Bhajanpura (C Block)-Gamri area in Trans Yamuna one xxxx, a prominent Congress-I leader of the locality who is a Gujar by caste called a meeting on the night of 31st October which was attended by his son xxxx, xxxx (kerosene depot operator), xxx (Principal of a local school in Bhajanpura) and made an exhaustive list of local Sikh families who were to be attacked on November 1 by them. According to the Nanaksar Report “what happened thereafter was sheer unspeakable horror. In a space of two and a half days among the families who took refuge in Nanaksar, 155 people had been slaughtered. These numbers, which are but from a single camp – make mockery of the Government’s estimate of the deaths in the Capital. 45% of those killed were from Nandnagari, most of whom were from Block A-1/3, the Punjabi Mohalla and Block E. Gamri and Bhajanpura-mostly C Block-accounted for another 30%. The dead left behind them were 107 widows, 72% from the ages 20-45 years.”
(c) In Kallekhan Basti near Nizammuddin a meeting was held on 31st October night over cups of tea and lasted till late at night. It was presided over by a Congress-I elected leader and some gujars including a well known Vaid-all Congess-I sympathizers attending it, finalizing their plan for November 1.
B) Political Organisers:
Throughout the Trans-Yamuna area in the catchment area, there were three types of people who were behind-the-scene organizers, those who identified Sikh households, mobilized hoodlums for mayhem and supplied fuel for arson. According to the survivors, these came from among (a) local level Congress-I politicians and hoodlums at different hierarchical levels, (b) ration shop owners and (c) kerosene depot owners, who have invariably been members of the same party or closely linked to local Congress-I politicians (Nanaksar Report).
According to our Survey, not an insignificant proportion of victims (19 p.c.) and their neighbours (20 p.c.) said that the attack was motivated by Congress-I political leaders. And a higher proportion of the victims (42 p.c.) identified Congress-I sympathizers as assailants.
It was reported that prominent among the people who were inciting the mob to violence in Sultanpuri, one was xxxx a Congress-I functionary and a close associate of xxxx, xxxx allegedly went rouond the area later building up a climate of fear among the people by spreading the story that the Sikhs had poisoned the water supply. He was allegedly leading the attack. There was another one xxxx of the Jamadars, xxxx a narcotic seller and xxxx.
Well dressed young men coming in Matador vans or cars or buses later identified as important functionaries of Congress-I or elected leaders belonging to Congress-I have been responsible for mobilizing and directing the mob towards Sikh houses, shops, factories and Gurudwaras. Refugees from Patparganj, Khichripur, Kalyanpuri in Pandav Nagar Gurudwara separately interviewed mentioned that a cream coloured Matador (xxx) owned by one xxxx drove up to Ganesh Nagar (Pandav Nagar Complex) carrying 12 men, one of whom was xxxx, a Congress-I Councillor; they distributed to the crowd assembled there lathis, revolvers and rifles – which they had brought with them – and were heard telling them before leaving ‘Use these on Sardars’.
The list giving the names of these 12 men was given to Mr. H.K.L. Bhagat, Union Minister, to Mrs. Tajdar Babar the Congress-I Metropolitan Councillor and President of the Delhi Pradesh Committee of Congess-I and also to Mr. Bedi, an official in the Ministry of Defence. No action was taken against those named.
In Bhogal, it was xxxx, a Congress-I worker and xxxx, owner of a sweet-shop- a Congess-I sympathizer- who were seen directing the crowd to Sikh shops in Bhogal Market which were all looted.
In Mangolpuri, a white Ambassador was seen driving up near the flyover from Mangolpuri. Sitting inside was xxxx, a prominent Congress –I man who had masked his face as not to be recognized (but he was recognized all the same). He called the crowd to his car and gave them some advice and then left; soon after that the Gurudwara went up in flames in the morning of November, 1.
In Vinod Nagar East two buses full of khadi kurta-pyjama clad young men drove up from the direction of the UP Border and led the local miscreants already assembled there, first to loot and burn Sikh shops and houses and then to burn alive human beings; genocide was perpetrated on November 1 in that small East Delhi colony. On 2nd November, 35 lawyers had visited some riot-affected areas. Mr. Ram Jethmalani’s eye-witness account of the after-math of Vinod Nagar killings is given in Chapter IV on ‘Nature of Violence’.
In Jehangirpuri, xxxx’s name, a Congress-I leader, has been reported, it has come up again and again as the one who incited the mob; once his henchman, xxxx had identified the Sikh houses he prodded them on to loot and burn these down. That politics of criminilisation was being played by the Congress-I functionaries has been conclusively proved.
According to the affidavit of Gurdeep Kaur – “On November 1 in Trilokpuri about 500 peopole came to Block 32. In such a crowd it was not possible to recognize everyone. Since I have lived in Trilokpuri for 8 years now I did recognize a few of the mob who had killed my family.
They were Tello, Manu (alleged to be a smuggler), Jagga and his wife Draupadi, Kishori Jamadar (sells pork), Rampal Saroj (Congress-I goonda who participated fully in looting and murder and also supervised the killing of several people), Roop Lal and his 3 sons who are thieves. Rampal Saroj came to our lane and assured us that Sikhs will not be harmed. He said that there was no need to be afraid; being the local leader he told the Sikhs not to get out of their houses because that would be safer. I was shocked that this traitor had deceived us and was a part of the mob. Rampal Saroj was leading the killers and the assurance he had given us was just a trick of his so that no Sikh would leave the house. Within 5 hours he brought the goondas, showed them each Sikh household, saw to it that the Sikhs were pulled out, and in his presence many Sikhs were beaten and burnt alive.”
C) Method of Identification:
Identification of Sikh shops and houses was done in a systematic way by (i) persons moving in scooters, in Matadors, or even on foot as if making a survey of the place; (ii) checking up names and addresses of Sikh students from school registers; (iii) with the help of ration cars and voters’ lists; and (iv) by marking Sikh houses – Nazi fashion, as in Hitler’s Germany. Nanaksar Report mentions: “xxx and xxx the owner of a shop which stands in the Bhajanpura Main Market, went from door to door of Sikh houses in Khajori Colony, Gamri and Bhajanpura marking them thus- X, S, (X), (S)- the houses were therby marked for arson, looting and murder.”
D) Collection of Incendiary Material:
Kerosene was collected from
Jhuggi dwellers (as in Nizammuddin Basti) by threatening them,
Ration shop owners too willing to help,
Kerosene depot owners.
Nanaksar Report says: “Several sources jointly and individually have pointed to xxxx, xxxx, xxxx and xxxx as the ones who supplied kerosene oil by the bucket-full on the Ist November. Further it was strongly alleged that xxxx under the order of xxxx also supplied phosphorous in the buckets of kerosene to aid the process of arson (but who supplied phosphorous to xxxx?)…… None of the witnesses spoke of the “safed cheez” being handled, everyone said it was in kerosene buckets and seen only when the kerosene was spilled on to floors.” The “white powder” was used in Jehangirpuri also.
According to the survivors in Sultanpuri the material used for arson was kerosene, some sort of liquid burns and also some kind of powder which explodes or catches fire.
Diesel oil and petrol were collected from petrol pumps, passing motor vehicles, cars and scootors.
E) Collection of mob:
1) In Hari Nagar Ashram, miscreants, 400 to 500 strong, arrived by Delhi-Palwal Shuttle Express from Faridabad at 9.45 A.M. and also by Kutub-Narmada Express at 11 A.M., armed with lathis, iron rods, soda water bottles and drums of kerosene. They joined the local mob, 700 strong, who had come from nearby J.J. colonies.
These people were led by xxxx, a Congress-I local leader followed by his friends xxxx, xxxx and xxxx. The mob now over 1000 strong split in two, one group attacking the Bala Saheb Gurdwara and the Shalimar area – the sikh pocket.
2) In Jehangirpuri also the pattern of collection of the mob is the same – neighbours as well as villagers from Balaswa, Ramgarh and Badli.
3) In every Resettlement Colony ‘outsiders’ were brought in buses from villages if they were far off, otherwise people came on foot and joined the local people.
4) In Sultanpuri the mob came from nearby Pooth Village and some were bad character and local goondas from block C-2, C-3,C-4, C-6. All their names are with us. If and when called for they would be produced.
5) Inquiries in Punjabi Bagh and Madipur colonies involving victims and looters, showed that the person leading the mobs were those who were used by ruling party to moblise support.
The type of areas which the Lt. Governor identified at his Press briefing on November 4, 1984 are similar to those from which crowds were collected by the ruling party both for the kisan rally three years ago and the bank loans function in January 1984. It was Mongolpuri, Sultanpuri, Tirlokpuri and Kalyanpuri from where Congress-I politicians found their crowds. “And it was Jehangirpuri where the mobs killed several persons of a minority community on suspicion that they had not voted for the Congress-I in civic elections in Delhi in January 1983.” (Statesman, November 5, 1984).
F. Composition of Mob:
a. Anti –social elements – some of them dacoits with police record such as xxxx, xxxx, xxxx, xxxx, xxxx (a mob leader as well), and so on. In Jehangirpuri there are persons who are willing to testify against these people in court;
b. Scheduled caste – Khatiks, Chamars, Purbiyas, Jamadars, bhangis (there is a great deal of resentment against the bhangis, most of whom rear pigs);
c. Backward castes – Jats, Gujars, Ahirs, most of them erst-while land owners; their land was acquired by the government for setting up new colonies. They have become hostile to the Sikhs because they live in these colonies.
Weapons used by them – in addition to lathis and iron rods, daggers and axes were used extensively.
G. The Type of Killers
Generally, Jat villagers from outskirts, Jamadars, bhangis and lumpens have been accused as killers by the survivors. The Congress -I ring leaders paid Rs. 1000/- to each killer as boasted by the killers themselves who invariably used to be heavily drunk before killing. Some witnesses have accused some policemen also of killing as in Sultanpuri or in Bhopal. Even today, two and a half months after the carnage, the refuges are afraid of three categories of human beings: Gujars, police and politicians.
As mentioned in the Nanaksar Report : ‘xxxx in these colonies is probably the most vicious of the killers – a general hoodlum of the Gamri, Bhajanpura and Khajori area, a class associate of xxxx, and always carries a revolver; he not only planned but actively participated in the killings and looting in Gamri and in C Block, Bhajanpura.” Another Gujar, xxxx doodwalla who supplied milk to Janata flat No. xxx Nand Nagari killed the male Sikh in the flat.
H. Method of Attack
Depending on the size of the mob, attacks were simultaneous or sequential. Where the mob was very large, as in Hari Nagar Ashram or again in Tirlokpuri, it split into 2 groups and the pattern of simultaneous attack was observed; but where the mob was smaller, 150-250 persons, the pattern was sequential; taking it easy, first Gurdwaras were destroyed one after another and then the Sikh houses and shops already identified were looted and finally the sikh men were humiliated, their hair was cut, their tubans torn apart, then they were brutally murdered and finally burnt down. This clever pattern leaves very little doubt that the violence had been extremely well organized by men who were experts at the game.
I. Repeated Visits:
To make sure if the victim was dead, the mob came back repeatedly to the place of violence like birds of prey. In Bhogal the crowd came at intervals, first at 11 A.M., then at 2 P.M., to see if the shops had burnt out. In Jehangirpuri also it returned to see if the men who had been burnt were dead.
In the over-all planning and organization, the slogans had a very important part to play and they were mainly 3 types used all over Delhi.
The object of the slogans was to incite the people to take revenge by playing upon Mrs. Gandhi’s greatness and the next moment reminding them that she was dead.
Thus frenzied cries of :
‘Indira Gandhi Amar Rahe’ and
‘Jab tak sooraj-chand rahega
Indira tera naam rahega’,
Were followed by
‘Khoon ka badla khoon se Lenge’
‘Sardaron ko jala do, ‘loot lo’, ‘Sardaron ko mar do’
“ Hindu-bhai, Muslim-bhai, Sardaron ki kare safai”.
The method of spreading rumours was subtle. It was done in three phases.
In the first phase, on 31st October, only one rumour was spread in the evening. Its sole intention was to arouse and incite the spirit of revenge, which was otherwise being fed by the incessant of showing of the dead body of Mrs. Gandhi on the TV and the continuous announcement of the two killers. The media even suggested the course of revenge when the voice of the excited mob at Teen Murti came through clear and sharp in the TV : “Khoon ka badla khoon se” (“Blood for blood.”). The rumour was that Sikhs all over Delhi were celebrating Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination by distributing sweets, dancing the ‘bhangra’ and bursting crackers as in Diwali. This spread like wild-fire though nobody had seen either the distribution of sweets, the dance or the Diwali illumination. Yet, all, even highly placed educated men and women accepted the rumour as true and were getting furious.
In the second phase, on November 1 after the Gurudwaras had been burnt down and a number of Sikhs burnt alive or hacked to death, to prevent or remove any kind of sympathy or compassion for them, three kinds of rumours were floated. People heard that “every Gurudwara was an arsenal” and “weapons which were used by the extremists were found under the Gurudwaras when they were burnt down”. However, in truth, no weapon was found in any of the burnt Gurudwaras. The second rumour was more forceful – after the killings of Sikhs had been put into effect – that the “Sardars were coming to attack armed with swords and they were just round the corner”. This second rumour sprouted into several harmful rumours – like “Sardars will kidnap children”, ‘they will attack at night’ – as a result people became afraid of Sikhs and parents living in several bastis deposited their children and their few possessions in the houses of their employees on November 2. In Chandni Chowk, the police were the author of an interesting slogan ‘Raat Hamari, Din Tumhara.’ It might have been begun as a cynically humourous statement since the police, being refused a share in a big Sikh jewellery shop, had broken the safes in the Saraf Bazar and had helped themselves with cash and jewellery; later this was twisted and was supposed to have been a threat coming from the Sikhs – the meaning being clear. The third and most dangerous rumour was spread on November 1 night, round about 10.30, after the carnage was nearly complete in the central areas, that the Sardars had poisoned the drinking water. Strangers rang up to give the news and warned people not to drink or use the Corporation water. This had a terrific impact and worked up even a secular minded Hindu against his Sikh neighbour.
In the third phase, on November 2, when trains arrived in Delhi with dead bodies of Sikhs, the rumour was spread that Hindus had been killed in Punjab and that their bodies had been brought to Delhi by the Jhelum Express from Punjab. It was necessary to substitute the truth by fiction to keep up the anger against the Sikhs because the extermination had not yet been completed in the Resettlement Colonies.
While analyzing the sordid episode of this genocide, one sees an invisible hand moving the pieces on his chessboard with remarkable dexterity; the most powerful leader of the locality calls the meeting, allocates to different selected groups different duties – like identification os Sikh houses, supervision and execution of the plan; determines the size and the composition of the mob and the areas from where it should be brought, settles the payment for each killing and most important, decides on the sequence of the attack – the Gurudwaras always being the first target. It was a double-edged strategy. To the killers, the Gurudwara was supposed to be the arsenal of the Sikhs and so the precaution had to be taken to destroy it first. To a Sikh the Gurudwara is the symbol of everything he stands for – his faith, love, courage – once the Gurudwara falls, he falls with it. It was to break him first morally, then physically- so also the Gurudwara was attacked first everywhere and then he was murdered. The slogans were also selected meticulously and the rumours were carefully spread so as to justify the carnage.