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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.


Sidhusaaheb said...

Ok, this may probably seem like a slightly insensitive thing to say, but why didn’t he start with the shotgun? He should have just blown the head off the first guy who came through the door, they deserved it.

Laath ke bhoot baat se nahi maante.
Deep | Homepage | 05.11.09 – 1:45 pm | #


Unless they anticipate such extreme situations and have rehearsed the best way to respond several times, people tend to take some time to react.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 05.11.09 – 3:59 pm | #


I don’t have too many happy memories from those myself, though I was just 5. We used to live in a neighbourhood with a large Sikh population and remember the half burnt bodies of a well known gentleman and his child who’d been burnt alive in the middle of the road.
Later we moved to another locality which was close to the resettlement colony for the ‘84 widows. I grew up playing with so many of the orphans of the riots and the horror stories of those days still tinge a corner of my heart.
May those days never come back on any of us.
nomad | Homepage | 05.11.09 – 4:04 pm | #



Heartbreaking. This brings back flashes of the two riots I witnessed in Indore,which I have never been able to forget anyway. I escaped the 84 riots just by a few months. All my friends in Delhi, and their families were touched by them though, and they tell horror stories to this date; the wounds and the disbelief are still fresh. And it reminds us of everthing that could have been, and everything that wasn’t. Brilliantly written, as always.
shubir | 05.13.09 – 6:49 am | #


What a horror!
Mridula | Homepage | 05.15.09 – 11:42 am | #


But at the end of it all, Singh is still King!
Deep | Homepage | 05.23.09 – 1:02 pm | #


@Deep: Indeed!

However, the fact remains that it took a shoe thrown at the Union Home Minister to get the candidature of two of the prime accused withdrawn from the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 05.23.09 – 6:11 pm | #

Sidhusaaheb said...

What can i say? About your classmate saying that Sikhs had celebrated the death of Indira Gandhi.. its sad that kids are fed crap of that kind – no doubt from the parents.

About what that family went through.. its sad, but thankfully no one died.. its insane.

Everytime Rahul Gandhi “apologises” or Manmohan goes “Bhool jao” , i feel like inviting him to Tilak Nagar, hari Nagar, and other areas where the widows of 1984 are still awaiting justice.. where there are children who became penniless, orphaned and unschooled within a day.. i want him to say these nice words to them.

Everytime anyone talks about forgive and forget 1984, i want them to know that at the very least, they should complete all the pending court cases of 1984 before opening that damn trap of theirs.

1984 is not a wound that will go away.. EVER. i still cannot remain in a room where 1984 is being discussed, and all pretence of normalcy is torn away at the very mention of that word. My religion has given me strength to put that behind me and to believe in “Sarbat ka bhala” again. But that doesnt mean the surgical wound is stitched. It is still open and festering. And will remain that way till justice is done.
How do we know | Homepage | 05.28.09 – 7:12 pm | #


That the kids could say such hurtful things to their friends-is not a big deal, considering what their elders did. However, those days had poisoned air, poisoned against everyone. But somehow in Punjab-though it was Sikh Militant against common Hindu and Military against common Sikh-better sense prevailed and people in general were closer to each other than it was publicised. It possibly had to do with the generation old closeness that they had? Metros had mosaic cultures and hence lesser sensitivity towards Sikhs (and minorities in general) perhaps?
Manpreet | Homepage | 05.29.09 – 2:44 am | #


@Manpreet: My family and I did not live in a metropolitan city in 1984.

We lived in a town called Haridwar (which was part of the state of Uttar Pradesh then and is now part of the state of Uttarakhand), as I have mentioned in the first blog-post of the series.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 05.29.09 – 12:16 pm | #