Nature Of Violence
What stunned every thinking person in the Capital this November was not merely the spread and duration, the meticulous planning and organization of the violence and the controlled and instigated assault on the Sikhs, but more, it was the very nature of the violence, its relentlessness, its unspeakable cruelty, the uninhibited sadism it displayed. It is not unlikely that a large number of these human monsters who participated in the crimes were similar to those who had been let loose a few month ago on the people of Nagpur, creating a reign of terror there. Many were the recipients of bank loans- the much-pampered Congress-I thugs who are immune to discipline and having powerful political patronage are still moving about freely; those who are supposed to be the protectors of life and property of the citizens either dare not touch them or are with them.
Ajit Singh, a survivor, resident of Friend’s Enclave, Rajendra Park, in a statement given to us in Gurumukhi has described how the mob was determined to do violence and to kill. “I am doing service in Delhi Cloth Mills. My son named Hari Singh (age 29 years who was a truck-mechanic was at home on 1.11.1984 when a mob of 150-200 persons armed with lathis, iron rods and bricks came here. First they broke all the doors of the house. We all were sitting in the room inside. On hearing the noise, we came out. Someone in the mob said that if we cut our children’s hair, they would not harm us. As soon as the elder son came out, the mob attacked him on the head with lathis and rods. He was injured and fell down. Then they kept beating him. Then they attacked me and my wife. We were seriously wounded. Then the mob took out our things and put them over my son. Pouring the oil over the belongings, they set our son on fire. Seeing this incident we fainted. When we returned to our senses, the mob had retreated. Then I hid myself in neighbour’s house which was being constructed. Nobody was living there.
On the afternoon of 2nd November, the mob had burnt the household items in the room. My wife stayed at home and she witnessed the entire incident helplessly.”
Some recently widowed women in East Vinod Nagar narrated to us how on November 1, two busloads of Congress-I men clad in Khadi kurta and pyjama had come from UP border, ostensibly for ‘Darshan’, but walked down the colony from the highway and led the hoodlums already assembled there in arson and killing. The trail of misery left behind by these men before they departed has been described by Mr. Ram Jethmalani (Surya, November, 1984) when he visited that area on November 2 with a number of Supreme Court lawyers-:
“As we turned into Vinod Nagar an unidentified body was lying across the road. A few passerby who were present informed us that the body was of a Sikh who had been shaved and burnt with kerosene and that he was a resident of Vinod Nagar. We made our way into Vinod Nagar. Charred bodies were visible in the lane unmistakably of the Sikhs, the long hair had been cut and was lying around the bodies; iron rods had been pierced through their backs and they had obviously been burnt by kerosene or petrol. A male corpse was lying in the verandah of every house. An inconsolable woman with her child narrated how mobs of hundreds had entered her house and despite all her pleas for compassion had killed and burnt her husband, taken away her gold earrings and bangles and her clothes, utensils and radio. The mob had come from the Resettlement Colonies. Some of them were identified as belonging to the Gujar community-the violence was the work of outsiders who had been manipulated to demonstrate their muscle power …. They were insitigated by the local Congess-I elements into a frenzy of resentment and suspicion against the Sikhs.”
The method of killing these men also was horrendous: crying, their widows described the deeply moving tragic episode to Jethmalani,”the mob while cutting their hair jeered and mocked at them chanting ‘mona mona mona’; they were ordered to keep dancing while the mob laughed wildely; it threw kerosene at them and gloated at their bodies burning, at the human being shrieking in horror and pain”.
The killers must have been especially selected for they meant to kill and came back again and again to verify if anyone was still alive. In Nand Nagri men were dragged out, mercilessly beaten, their heads shaved, beard shorn, then as if it was a game of football, they were dashed on the ground and rolled in gutters, when nearly unconscious they were thrown into the flames to be roasted alive like pigs.
In some areas lighted sticks were held over their heads-doused in kerosene, and they burned like human torches. Sometimes the methods of torture was changed and the men died burning ignited limb by limb.
According to Jog Singh of A-I Block, Nand Nagri – 14-years old apprentice in a factory manufacturing scooter-glass vacuum mirror, who had escaped death but was severely burnt – described how cruelly seventeen members of his joint family had been killed. Of the seventeen, eight were children, one of them an infant 1 1/2 months old, two women who were raped before being killed and seven men. First their houses were stoned; since they did not come out, the mob set fire to the house. When some came out and tried to escape they were caught, and one of the men was thrown into the fire, he died- burnt alive. The other six were beaten unconscious with iron rods; then four of them still unconscious, but not yet dead, were stacked on the seat and the floor of the rickshaw which was owned by the man who had already been burnt alive. The other were dragged some distance with the help of ropes, one end of which was tied to them, the other end to the rickshaw. Finally the rickshaw was set ablaze alongwith all the six men. In this Resettlement Colony the kerosene depot owner supplied diesel, and the policeman who was present there instead of controlling the mob instigated the crowd to arson and murder; everywhere there were Congress-I men abetting the killing. The weapons used were spears, iron rods and lathis with spikes attached to them.
In this colony the women were raped after the men were killed; a young girl was gangraped and the brutes pushed an iron rod up her vagins, she is still lying in a critical condition. In Nand Nagri there were those rare instances where neighbours were killers. Two women of this colony were involved in arson, looting and inciting the mob to kill their neighbours. One of the women- a nurse of flat number xxx incited her newphews to kill residents of flat No. xxxx and looted the house with them. The other was xxx who with her sons xxxx and xxxx and her daughter and, daughters-in-law looted the houses of Sikh residents and burnt them.
In Tirlokpuri where practically the entire Block No. 32 was wiped out, Vidya Kaur 30, (a pregnant woman who gave birth immediately after the violent death of her husband) in her affidavit to Delhi High Court which has been filed in a writ petition, has narrated how viciously the killers went about their business. For safety her husband had cut his hair and as he was crossing over from the terrace of the house where he had taken shelter earlier to another neighbour’s house – he was recognized by Salim, a notorious criminal of the area. “He crossed over to terrace where my husband was and forcibly dragged him to the adjoining terrace and beating him pushed him down and the mob which had collected there with their swords, knives, spears and iron rods and tins of kerosene fell on him and poured kerosene on him and burnt him …. I rushed out towards the street corner and to my horror saw the burning body of my husband. Salim and several others I could recognize. Meanwhile the mob was growing in size, many were dancing in joy as they were burning people live. Some were shouting: “ Where are the fresh rats? We will hunt them.”
According to another victim Pratap Singh (28), who used to run a provision store in Block 32, Tirlokpuri, and who was totally blinded by the shower of iron rods on his head, the mob shouted : “They want Khalistan – let us create Khalistan here!”. The mob closed the exit and entrance to the lanes and destroyed the Sikhs.
Gurdeep Kaur of Block 32/117 Tirlokpuri also has in writ petition in Delhi High Court, described the horrifying nature of the violence that destroyed her two sons, one son-in-law and a nephew on the morning of November 1. The mob broke open the door of her house and pulled the 4 men out. Bhajan was hit on his head by an iron rod and sprinkled with kerosene and set on fire at the door; Man Singh was hit with a dagger and burnt; Gulab who had managed to hide himself in a neighbour’s house was pointed out by Draupadi’s sister Tello and beaten mercilessly with lathis, after which finding that he was still alive the mob electrocuted him. Her youngest son Pritam was hiding behind her.
They pulled him out and dragged him to Jagga’s house where he was killed. Before pulling him out,” the mob began pulling and tearing my clothes and in a little while I was standing naked. After this they raped me in front of my son”.
In Hari Nagar Ashram ( Chapter II on “ The Carnage”) the man was first dragged out, beaten up and his left thigh slashed off – the stench of fresh blood had drawn the street dogs and in presence of the gloating crowd they began to tear it and gobble up the flesh. The man, in indiscernible pains was doused in kerosene and burnt alive.
This was the nature of the violence, unchecked and allowed to be committed in the Capital on men whose fathers and brothers had shed their blood and are still shedding for the defence of this country, which is much more theirs as anyone else’s.
This new dimension was added to the grim tragedy – killings on railway trains. Every train to Delhi on Friday (November 2, 1984) carried death. Scores of bodies were found in compartments when the trains arrived and many more were burnt on railway tracks and platforms on the outskirts of Delhi. (Statesman, November 3, 1984). Col. Anand’s family did not know for several days that he had been dragged out of the train and killed though he was in uniform. Surjit Singh of Tirlokpuri, a Young greaser in the Railways never came back from Saharanpur where he had gone on duty; weeks later his Hindu colleagues informed his anxious parents how he along with three sikh passengers had been pulled out of the train in Loni Raod, beaten up and burnt with diesel oil. Their bodies could never be found. Sometimes bodies were discovered after days but never returned to their relatives. This happened when the battered bodies of Gyani Kuldep Singh and his son were found behind AGCR’s office. In Palam village, people saw nine Sikhs dragged out of the Ahmedabad Mail and hacked to pieces which were strewn all over the railway line. Where was the railway police or the police incharge of the Palam Thana? These are questions which every administration which is still functioning or supposed to be functioning must answer. And this leads us to examine the behaviour of the police and the role of the administration during the violence.