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Monday, May 25, 2009

A Solution for Communalism

With respect to the last paragraph of the previous post, a friend, who is a school-teacher from Scotland, wrote:

"It's true...about kids gaining prejudices at a young age, without really understanding what it's all about...that's what I often say about racial issues and other prejudices being 'in-bred'...there's many, I'll bet, who are engaged in conflicts around the world due to in-bred prejudices, or pre-conceived notions about a person or persons. The only way to ever change things in this world and the only ever hope of peace is to try to promote tolerance from the start (i.e. when very young). This also involves co-operation from the parents, though, so is no easy task. However sometimes opinions can be changed...just takes a lot of work, effort and a lot of introspection (something that not all folks are comfortable with)..."

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Memories of 1984 (Part 3)

On a morning that it appeared relatively safer to venture out, my father and I set out on foot to visit the Sikh family that had been attacked in the neighbourhood. They had been friends of my parents' long before I was born. I listened intently as the events of that fateful evening were recounted for us.

Using crowbars, apparently, some of the attackers managed to break the back door open, while others worked at forcing an entry at the front. Mr. Singh stood in the doorway, to prevent the miscreants from entering. They used sticks and iron rods to hit him. Within a few minutes, his collar-bone and the bones in one of his forearms had been broken. When he fell to the floor, shortly thereafter, an adolescent daughter of his replaced him. Blows rained down upon her as well and she, too, sustained injuries.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Singh's septuagenarian father retrieved his 12-gauge shotgun (for which he had a licence issued by the Government of India) from under his bed and loaded it. Almost as soon as he opened a window at the front of the flat and prepared to fire at the mob, an alarm was raised and all of the rioters fled.

On our way back, after we had listened to the account provided above, we met another Sikh colleague of my father's. He had been to a meeting attended by some officials of the local administration and members of the Gurdwara management committee. Apparently, the officials were unwilling to guarantee security, if reconstruction of the Gurdwara were to begin immediately.

A few days later, when I returned to school after the 'communal-riot break', a non-Sikh classmate told me that the Sikhs in the local area had brought the violence upon themselves, because they had celebrated Indira Gandhi's death. My contention that I personally knew no such people appeared to cut no ice with him.