1984 Anti-Sikh riots: Court verdict brings hope for victims families

New Delhi: Though India is a secular nation which is protected by the Constitution, religious violence in India has led to numerous riots against the minority communities.

The recent first conviction in 1984 Anti-Sikh riots finally seemed to bring a ray of hope to those seeking justice for the past 34 years were thousands of Sikh community people were massacred by anti-Sikh mobs in response to the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard.

Sikh woman Sheela Kaur aged 55 seeking justice for her slain husband gives a wry smile when her neighbour Banto Kaur informs her about the first conviction in the case.

“Were they from Sultanpuri?” Sheela asked wondering if the convicted men were involved in her family member’s killing in Sultanpuri.

“I saw local Congress leaders leading and instigating the mobs not to spare any Sikh,” Sheela alleges.

Sheela, 55, who now lives with her son in west Delhi’s Tilak Vihar Colony.

“To finally hear that some of the killers have been convicted is a small victory. We now wait for the main conspirators to be punished,” she said. Sheela is now living with her son in Delhi’s Tilak Vihar Colony.

Another victim of the Anti-Sikh riots is Sundri Kaur, aged 60 who has lost her husband Bhagwan Singh as well as brother-in-law and father-in-law in Sultanpuri’s C Block, TOI reports.

“My husband was an autorickshaw driver. On November 1, he left home never to return. We don’t even know what fate he met,” Sundri recalls.

“His auto was found at Trilokpuri police station 15 days later,” she said.

When asked about how she dealt with the information she was giving in the court, Sundri said instead of asking her about the riots incident that took away her family members, “the opposition lawyers asked me about what I ate that day.”

Another victim Banto Kaur claims she did not even get the chance to have a case registered against the murder of her father-in-law and brother-in-law.

“We escaped from Sultanpuri and hid in Rani Bagh,” Banto said.

“I saved my eight-year-old son by making him dress like a girl.”

Bringing the main conspirators to justice is what the victims of Sikh riots are now seeking.

“Whether the Sikh victim is from Mahipalpur, Trilokpuri or Sultanpuri, we will fight for them and bring the main conspirators to justice,” she said.

Another victim Gurinder Singh who was born just a month after the riots lost his father and uncle in Mangolpuri and have been visiting courts for the past 2 decades seeking justice.

“Today, we got some hope. But these are small fish. The big ones need to be brought to book,” he declared.

Like Gurinder, Ganga Kaur who was just four at the time of the riots was happy with the verdict that has filled her with hope. She lost 11 family members in Trilokpuri.

“My father was lynched outside his warehouse while my grandfather was killed inside the gurdwara. We were well-off then but suffered a lot after that. Justice is long overdue to us,” recalls Ganga.