Who Are The Guilty? Eye Witness Accounts
Annexure – II: Eye Witness Accounts
1. Dev Dutt, Journalist
By 4.30 p.m. on 31st October, a crowd of about 3,000 to 4,000 had gathered around the AIIMS in front of the main entrance gate of that institution. There were slogans mostly in praise of Mrs. Gandhi, and a few slogans threatening revenge. But there was no tension. There were a number of Sikhs in the crowd. Their faces showed no fear or apprehension, although everyone knew that a Sikh had assassinated the P.M. We talked to some of them in order to gauge their state of mind. The Sikhs seemed to be supremely confident about the goodwill of their Hindu brethren. It seems they nursed no suspicions against the Hindus. They did not show any traces of nervousness of any kind. The non Sikhs in the crowd did not seem even to notice the presence of Sikhs and took their presence as normal.
While this crowd waited patiently for the dead body of the PM to be brought out, the flow of traffic and business in the kiosks around along the wall of the Safdarjung Hospital went on as usual.
I was standing near the crossing in front of the AIIMS when 30-40 young men emerged out of the crowd and formed a neat column three or four men deep and ran towards the crossing near the traffic island. Then the group moved towards INA market. They caught hold of a scooter and set it on fire. There was a traffic jam near the petrol pump adjoining the INA market. The group turned back and moved towards Safdarjung Hospital on Ring Road and moved towards Sarojini Nagar. They began to pull Sikhs out of buses and remove their turbans and maltreat them. I saw five turbans burning in a row on the Ring Road.
There was no police in the area. The group had a free hand. After some time say 20 minutes or so, a group of khaki clad men arrived and began to chase away the miscreants. It is difficult to explain the sudden eruption of violence in the AIIMS area on the evening of October 31, 1984. Perhaps the unusual normalcy in that area provoked a section of the people assembled there who were deeply moved by the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi. But the question is: Who were these people who came out of the crowd and went on a rampage?
2. Dipankar Gupta, Assistant Professor, JNU:
On November 1 at 11.00 a.m. I was coming by the Vasant Vihar Gurudwara (Priya Cinema) where I saw a group of young men (about 60) attacking the Gurudwara. There were four policemen with guns slung on their shoulders who at that point turned away from the Gurudwara and began walking towards the Cinema complex.
On the same day at 9.20 a.m. I was at the JNU (New Campus) gate, where I found that a number of young men were energetically spreading the rumour that a band of Sikhs shoot down Hindus and that there were three bodies lying between the old and the new camps of JNU. When some students and teachers offered to go down with him to verify his allegation, he disappeared.
Between 9.20 and 10.30 p.m. on November 1, a Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (I) car kept making the rounds of the campus. I do not know if the occupants of the car included JNU students, but on two occasions I noticed that the occupants of the car conversed at length with those who were spreading the rumour that Sikhs with sten guns were out to kill Hindus. At 10.40 a green Ambassador car with a West Bengal number plate stopped at the gate and three well-to-do-people got off. They were in the age group of 40-45. One of them went up to the students and teachers manning the gate and said, “I must warn you that Sikhs with nothing in their heads and with sten guns in hand are indiscriminately killing Hindus. You should all go home or you might get hurt.
3. Prof. Ashwini Ray, Head of Department of Political Science, JNU
November1, 1984 at 10 a.m. onwards: There was a police vehicle with about four policemen in Bhogal market. I came out of the house and was smoke billowing out. Heard the sound of a big type burst and suddenly saw the police vehicle come out of the Bhogal market, part at Mathura Road, to make way for a truck put on fire and being driven by one of the arsonists himself. The arsonist jumped out, and the truck bumped into a railing within 15 metres of the police car on the opposite side of the road. Policemen were reading newspapers and drinking tea inside the car while the arson was going on all around. I went to the police car to ask why they were not stopping the arson and was told to mind my own business. Already 70-80 trucks were burning in Bhogal and the smoke billowing out.
A short while later, I saw a Texla TV Service Centre on fire, radio sets and TVs being carried off right in front of the parked police vehicle. Some policemen in the vehicle asked the people to hurry with the loot. By the time I found an armed mob and a group of Sikhs confronting each other close to my house. I rushed home to ring up the police but simply could not get through to the Control Room (100). Within half an hour of this I saw the ghastly sight of about 80 Sikhs of all ages – from toddlers to 80 year olds, including women and children, crowded on the back verandah of the second floor of a corner house, some of whom were attempting to jump out. I found to my horror that many of the houses in this row had been set on fire, with the mob waiting in front with sticks and weapons for the occupants to emerge out of the houses. Some citizens managed to help the beseiged Sikhs and give them shelter.
The citizens organized a defense committee. In all this only once at night, around 10 p. m. a CRPF patrol marched into the locality and disappeared after giving instructions to keep within doors and keep the lights off. Though it had been agreed by the citizens vigilance committee that some lights should be kept on, the whole locality obeyed the CRPF which never visited the area again.
4. Swapan Lahiri, Engineer
On November 1, at around 1. 30 p. m. I followed from a distance a group of 50 to 60 people, wielding sticks and iron rods from Parliament Street to Raising Road. There, they tried to get into the house of the BJP MP Atal B. Vajpayee, which was protected by the police and some other men. The mob abused Vajpayee, and moved towards the Press Club taxi stand, where some DLY cars and taxis were burnt. When some foreign TV cameramen tried to take pictures, they were prevented.
The mob then moved to the Congress(I) office on Raisina Road, where they regrouped themselves. A part of the mob moved out from the office premises towards Janpath crossing. There they entered the CPI office and began breaking doors and windows with iron rods.
I saw a taxi coming. The mob stopped it and broke its windscreen. The driver pleaded that he was a Hindu, but the mob did not stop. Soon a jeep with a Congress(I) flag came and a man got down. He gave some instructions to the mob and left the scene. The mob then began moving in another direction, and I left.
During all these incidents, I saw the police standing and watching without intervening at any stage.
5. Sudip Mazumdar, Journalist
The police Commissioner, S. C. Tandon was briefing the press (about 10 Indians reporters and five foreign journalists) in his office on November 6, 5 p. m. A reporter asked him to comment on the large number of complaints about local Congress MPs and light weights trying to pressure the police to get their men released. The police commissioner totally denied the allegation and when questioned further he categorically stated that he has never received any calls or visits by any Congress for that matter, any political leader trying to influence him or his force. Just as he finished uttering these words, Jagdish Tytler, Congress MP from Sadar Constituency, barged of into the PC’s office along with three other followers and on the top of his voice demanded from the PC ” What is this Mr. Tandon? You still have not done what I asked you to do?”
The reporters were amused, the Police Commissioner embarrassed. Tytler kept on shouting and a reporter asked the PC to ask that ” shouting man” to wait outside since a press conference was on. Tytler shouted at the reporter: ” this is more important”. However the reporter told the PC that if Tytler wanted to sit in the office he would be welcome, but a lot of questions regarding his involvement would also be asked and he was welcome to hear them. Tytler was fuming. Perhaps realizing the faux pas he sat down and said : ” By holding my men you are hampering relief work”. Then he boasted to some foreign reporters that ” there is not a single refugee in any camp in my constituency. I have made sure that they are given protection and sent back home”. However the incident left the PC speechless and the reporters convinced about the Congress(I) interference in police work.
6. Rahul Kuldip Bedi
C/ o Indian Express
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi-110 002
5 November 1984
The Lt. Governor
I am enclosing a complaint against three senior Delhi Police Officers who through sheer apathy and dereliction of duty became accessories to one of the most gruesome massacres in post independent India.
I sincerely hope that you will take necessary action.
RAHUL KULDIP BEDI
Cc: Union Minister (Home)
Home Secretary, Govt. of India
Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat
Chief Security Advisor, Cabinet Secretariat
Statesman/ times of India/ Hindustan Times/ Jansatta/ Patriot/ Dainik
Samachar/ Navbharat Times/ Telegraph/ Free Press/ Hindu/
All major newspapers and magazines.
C/ o Indian Express
BahadurShah Zafar Marg
New Delhi- -110 002.
November 5, 1984
The Police Commissioner
Following our meeting in your own room at the Police Headquarters on Sunday, November 4, I wish to register a complaint of criminal negligence against Mr. H. C. Jatav. IPS. Additional Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Mr. Nikhil Kumar, IPS, Additional Commissioner of Police, Delhi and Mr. Seva Das IPS, Deputy Commissioner of Police, East District, for being responsible through their apathy and severe dereliction of duty for the massacre in Trilokpuri where over 350 persons were slaughtered in a carnage lasting over 30 hours, ending on the evening of November 2. you agreed to look into the matter.
The official figure of the number dead is 95 in Trilokpuri. The following are the details of the negligence:
- On learning of the massacre on November 2 morning. I along with Mr. Joseph Maliskan, reporters, Indian Express newspaper, rushed to Trilokpuri at 2 p. m. around 500 metres away from Block 32 we met a police rider and a constable coming from the block where the killings were still taking place.
Stopping the rider and asking him as to what was going on inside the block, he told us that the situation was quiet. Only two people had been killed, he said.
- On going further. Our car was blocked by an angry mob who stoned us and told us to leave or face the consequences. Block 32, they said was out of bounds.
- We went to the local Kalyanpuri Police Station, looking after Trilokpuri and asked the Sub Inspector on duty for help in getting into the beleaguered block around 3. 30 p. m. The Police officer said that all was quiet in Trilokpuri as his rider had reported the same to him. Besides, he said, he was a short of men.
- After seeking army patrols in vain, we arrived at the Police Headquarters at 5 p. m. Mr. Nikhil Kumar, manning the telephones in your room, was told of the situation. He called the central control room, two floors above; Mr. Nikhil Kumar did nothing to ensure that a force had been sent other than make the telephone call to the control room. He asked the control room to inform the captain on duty inside the control room.
- On reaching Trilokpuri at 6. 05 p. m. we found the Kalyanpuri Station House Officer (SHO) Mr. S. V. Singh accompanied by two constables arriving in a Matador van; Mr. S. V. Singh said that he had radioed his senior officers, specially his DCP, Seva Das. The DCP was nowhere in sight till after 7 p. m.
- On returning to the police headquarters, we were told by Mr. Nbikhil Kumar that he had done his job by informing the control room.
Meawhile Mr. Jatav, returning from a tour of the Trans Lamuna areas, including Kalyanpuri police station area(which includes Trilokpuri) arrived in your room and declared that “calm” prevailed in his area. His DCP, Seva Das, he said, confirmed this.
- When we stressed the urgency of the situation Mr. Jatav inquired from Nikhil Kumar as to why he had not been told of the emergency as he was in his office a floor above at 5 p. m. , when the latter had merely called parroting the fact that he had called the control room.
- Mr. Jatav arrived at the spot around 7. 45 p.m. over 30 hours after the killings began on November 1 around 10 a. m.
I hope suitable action in taken against these police office who through dereliction on duty became accessories to the butchering.
Sd/ – Sd/ –
Joseph Mallakan Rahul Kuldip Bedi
Copy received by Subhash Tandon on 5. 11. 84.
7. Ms. Kamiri Jaiswai, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
On our visit to Pandunagar Gurudwara on November 3, we saw Mr. Padam Sharma who identified himself as the DPCC(I) President. He tried to send us back saying ” nothing is wrong”. “Everything is alright here”. But since we had been to the Gurudwara a day earlier and wanted to see the police who were hiding in the place, we insisted on going to the Gurudwara. When we reached the Gurudwara, there were a large number of people some of whose relatives were stranded in the colony across the road in south Ganesh Nagar, and they were anxious that these people should be rescued. We volunteered to rescue these people from South Ganesh Nagar. But on our return the same crowd that had earlier guided us to the Gurudwara turned violent and attacked the car with stones and rods. They said that we were trying to fortify the Gurudwara and disturb the balance: this was not going to be tolerated. This group was led by Mr. Padam Sharma. Later a person from the crowd told us that Mr. Padam Sharma was organizing everything there as this was his constituency and that he did not like any interference in his area.