Sunday, November 18, 2012

1984 anti-Sikh riots: MP to petition Australian parliament - Yahoo! News India - And a Brief Background gathered Online

1984 anti-Sikh riots: MP to petition Australian parliament - Yahoo! News India:

A lawmaker will present a 'genocide petition' in parliament calling the Australian government to recognise the horrific violence that took place against the Sikh community in November 1984 in India following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi. At least 3,000 Sikhs were killed in three days in the Indian capital New Delhi following the killing of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on Oct 31, 1984.
Warren Entsch, an Australian federal member of parliament, will present the 'genocide petition' before the Australian parliament. It will be tabled before the House of Representatives during adjournment debate Nov 1, said a press communique from theSupreme Sikh Council of Australia. The petition will call upon Australian government to recognise that an organized campaign of horrific violence took place against the Sikh community in November 1984, and that these killings were "genocide" as per the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Warren Enstch, who is currently serving as the Chief Opponent Whip for the Liberal Party of Australia, said he decided to support the petition as he was "horrified" at the way Sikhs had been treated and at what is still going on today. "What drove me to act in particular was that the United Nations and world leaders, including the Australian parliament in February this year - have recognised an act of genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995, when 7,000 men and boys were massacred due to their Muslim faith," the North Queensland MP explained. "I thought to myself, if something of that nature could be recognised so quickly by the world community, it seems unreasonable that the Sikh community has had to wait for so long." Official records show that a total of 35,000 claims of deaths and serious injuries were filed by Sikhs who sustained attacks during November 1984. Out of which more than 20,000 claims were from attacks that took place outside Delhi and in the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir; Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, said the press note.

According to Harkirat Singh, general secretary, Supreme Sikh Council of Australia, the "Genocide Petition" has been signed by thousands of community members across Australia. The Sikh community in Australia has been a vibrant part of the Australian cultural mosaic since 1897. Hundreds of Sikhs will travel to Canberra from across Australia and will be present in the public gallery in the House of Representatives during the tabling of the petition by Warren Entsch, the press note added.

A Brief Background

As per - the 1984 Sikh Genocide[2][3][4][5] or the 1984 Sikh Massacre was a pogrom directed against Sikhs in  northern India in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, there were more than 3,000 deaths.[4] CBI is of the opinion that the acts of violence were well organized with support from the then Delhi police officials and the central government headed by Indira Gandhi's son,Rajiv Gandhi. [6] Rajiv, who was sworn in as the Prime Minister after his mother's death, when asked about the riots said "when a big tree falls, the earth shakes"

The Delhi High Court, while pronouncing its verdict on a riots-related case in 2009, stated:[33]

“Though we boast of being the world’s largest democracy and the Delhi being its national capital, the sheer mention of the incidents of 1984 anti-Sikh riots in general and the role played by Delhi Police and state machinery in particular makes our heads hang in shame in the eyes of the world polity. ”

In Delhi, 442 of the rioters were convicted by the courts. 49 of these were sentenced to the life imprisonment, and another three to imprisonment of more than 10 years. As of June 2012, one more case was pending in a Delhi court. 6 Delhi Police officers were punished for lapses during the riots.[41]

The charred and hacked remains of the hundreds that perished in Trilokpuri's Block 32 on the smoky and dank evening of 2 November 1984 were stark testimony to the unimpeded and seemingly endless massacre.Soon after news of Mrs Gandhi's killing by her Sikh bodyguards spread, Hindu mobs swung into action - like they did elsewhere in the city armed with voters' lists - in Trilokpuri against the low caste Sikhs inhabiting one-roomed tenements on either side of two narrow alleyways barely 150 yards long.With local police connivance they blocked entry to the neighbourhood with massive concrete water pipes and stationed guards armed with sticks atop them.For the next three days marauding groups armed with cleavers, scythes, kitchen knives and scissors took breaks to eat and regroup in between executing their bloodthirsty mission.

Sikhs were killed in the main railway station (Photo: Ashok Vahie)
When as a reporter then with the Indian Express newspaper I along with two other colleagues visited the area on the eve of Mrs Gandhi' funeral, both lanes were littered with bodies, body parts and hair brutally hacked off, forcing us to walk precariously on tip-toe. It was impossible to place one's foot flat on the ground for fear of stepping on either a severed limb or a body.Earlier in the day two policemen on a motorcycle had emerged from Block 32 and reassured us that shanti or calm prevailed inside it and no untoward incident had occurred.A few hours later on returning to the spot we saw that the entire area was awash with blood, a large proportion of it black coagulated mounds over which flies buzzed lazily. It was also piled high in the open drains on either side of the tenements, never efficient at the best of times, alongside other human remains.

From -

The 339-page inquiry report by former Supreme Court judge, GT Nanavati, was tabled in parliament which said that recorded accounts from witnesses and victims of the rioting "indicate that local Congress leaders and workers had either incited or helped the mobs in attacking the Sikhs". The investigation found "credible evidence" against current Congress minister for non-resident affairs, Jagdish Tytler, "to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs".

The inquiry recommended further investigation into Mr Tytler's role. The investigation also found "credible evidence" against Congress politician, Dharam Das Shastri, in instigating an attack on Sikhs in his area. It also recommended examination of some cases against another Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar, for his alleged involvement in the rioting.

Mr Kumar had been cleared of leading a mob by a sessions court in Delhi in 2002 because of lack of evidence. The inquiry said there was "absolutely no evidence" suggesting that Mrs Gandhi's son, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, or "any other high ranking Congress leader had suggested or organised attacks on Sikhs". The report said that the police "remained passive and did not provide protection to the people" during the riots. "There was a colossal failure of the maintenance of law and order," the report said. Relatives of the victims of the riots who spoke to the BBC were sceptical about the investigation.
"What is the use of this report? It practically exonerates most of the Congress leaders we had accused of leading the mobs. Nothing will happen to the big leaders," said Gurdip Singh, whose father Harbhajan, was killed by the rioters.

From -

In his final arguments, CBI prosecutor RS Cheema told the court that the riots which targeted a particular community were "backed by both the Congress government and police".

"There was a conspiracy of terrifying proportion with the complicity of police and patronage of local MP Sajjan Kumar," the prosecutor told Judge JR Aryan, who will eventually pass judgement in the case. 
Mr Cheema said that witnesses at the scene heard Sajjan Kumar tell a crowd that "not a single Sikh should survive".

Sajjan Kumar and five others on trial with him deny charges of being involved in the killing of six people at Delhi Cantonment - or military area - during riots that were sparked by the killing of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The trial began after a government inquiry found "credible evidence" that some Congress party leaders incited crowds to attack Sikhs during the riots and that they were not spontaneous.

The case against Sajjan Kumar was registered in 2005 on a recommendation by Justice GT Nanavati Commission. CBI had filed two charge sheets against him and the other accused in January 2010. 

The trial court had framed charges against Sajjan Kumar and the five others under Sections 302 (murder), 395 (dacoity), 427 (mischief to cause damage to property), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and other provisions of the IPC. Sajjan Kumar is facing trial along with five others - Balwan Khokkar, Kishan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal - for allegedly inciting a mob against the Sikh community in Delhi Cantonment area.

From -

Riots are always a blot on the conscience of any nation, and as much as we talk about the 2002 Godhra riots, the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 are also a bitter reminder of the bestiality that we, as a nation, are capable of. Twenty eight years have passed since the riots – that some reports suggest was orchestrated by the Congress. Yet victims who are fighting for justice, say precious nothing has been done to bring the guilty to book.
HS Phoolka, a senior lawyer who has been fighting the case for many years said that there has been very little actually done on the ground to ensure that justice is served, and said that there was every evidence to suggest that the guilty were protected – both then and now – by some very powerful people.” The cases were not registered at all. Even when they were registered, most of the cases were closed,” he told CNN-IBN.

Evidence suggests that several Congress leaders might have been complicit in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Will the victims get justice? AFP

Phoolka said that in addition to the paucity of cases that were actually filed, the investigations had been so badly conducted that even the courts had repeatedly criticised the police. He alleged that one of the prime accused, Sajjan Kumar was helped thanks to forged documents.

And the rot just didn’t stop at investigations and prosecution. The lawyer also referred to the Mishra committee report which clearly said that despite the availability of a 5000 strong army, they were not deployed to stop the riots. There is also evidence, according to him, that then Home Minister Narasimha Rao had agreed to call in the army to put an end to the carnage, but had been dissuaded by someone, possibly higher up in the Congress, to ignore the call.

From -

C-block, or the "widows' colony," as it is more commonly known, is where Surinder Kaur, 65, lives today after she sold her house in Sagarpur and moved next door to her sister Harjinder Kaur, 57, a few years ago. Every morning, the women have tea together in a two-room house, where the only picture is of a newlywed Harjinder and her husband, killed 25 years ago in one of the darkest chapters in Indian history.

The widows' colony in Tilak Vihar is a cheaply built and neglected cluster of homes, which were given by the government to hundreds of women and their children who survived what have become known as the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. But as the grim event's 25th anniversary nears at the end of this month, crime, addiction and prostitution have taken root in what was supposed to be a survivors' safe haven. Residents say this is because of the damage to the mental health of children who were witness to their parents' and siblings' murders and who grew up in impoverished homes and weren't given any medical help — physical or mental — for their problems. "They'll slice a blade right through you if they know you're new to the area," warns Harjinder. "Even the autorickshaw drivers refuse to come here."
Devender Singh, 26, an unemployed drug addict whose father was killed before his eyes in 1984, says his brother was murdered in the colony a couple years ago and that it's likely he'll meet the same fate. "We're all thieves and addicts here," he says. "When you get no work, what else will you do?" The lawless attitude of the young people is an echo, residents say, of India's broken justice system. The young people saw no punishment for the crimes committed against their families, so they see no justice for the crimes they'll commit in the future.
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