The genocide of Sikhs must not be forgotten or forgiven

Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 21st October, 2019

This 1st of November is the 35th anniversary of the massacre of people of the Sikh faith, carried out following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  Tens of thousands of Sikhs were murdered and raped in Delhi, Kanpur, Bokaro and other places.

What took place during 1st to 3rd November, 1984, is recorded as “anti-Sikh riot” in official government records.  The word “riot” implies that it was a spontaneous outburst.  Acting Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi publicly declared, “When a big tree falls, the earth will shake!”  He thereby implied that people had attacked Sikhs as an act of revenge for the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

All available facts show that the gruesome violence targeted at Sikhs was not the result of a spontaneous outburst.  It was meticulously organised.  This much has finally been recognised in the judgment of the Delhi High Court last year, which convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for his role in the genocide.

It was officially reported that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had been shot dead by one of her two personal bodyguards on 31st October.  The two personal bodyguards were immediately arrested and disarmed.  Then one of them was killed in captivity, a suspicious act that remains a mystery till today. 

A Prime Minister being shot dead indicates the hand of some powerful interest.  Which domestic or international force had masterminded the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and to achieve what political aim? Without investigating these questions, those in power started spreading the word that “Sikhs have killed our beloved Prime Minister”.  The fact that the two bodyguards alleged to have shot her were Sikhs was used to target an entire community.  

The call to take revenge on Sikhs was issued by senior Congress leaders on 1st November, outside the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, where the Prime Minister’s body lay.  Gangs armed with voter lists to identify Sikh homes, and armed with equipment to kill and burn people alive, were unleashed in numerous localities of Delhi.  They were led by well-known leaders of the ruling party. 

The security forces were ordered not to protect those being attacked.  In some places, the police intervened to disarm the victims before the murderous gangs arrived.

During the whole duration of the genocide, numerous appeals were made by concerned citizens, including serving judges, Members of Parliament, retired Generals and Air Marshals.  They appealed to the Home Minister and to the President of India, to stop the genocide. Their pleas were met with a wall of silence. The genocide continued for 72 long hours. Every minute, on average, one person of the Sikh faith was butchered on the streets of Delhi.

The only real protection that the Sikhs had during those days was their own collective self-defence, and the assistance provided by people in the neighbourhood.  Those Sikhs who quickly gathered in their local Gurudwara and showed their strength with swords in hand saved themselves.  There were numerous cases of Hindus and Muslims protecting their Sikh neighbours.

For the past 35 years, people have been demanding that justice must be delivered for the genocide of Sikhs in 1984.  The official response to these demands has been to constitute one investigation commission after another.  While exposing the involvement of some individual politicians, such official commissions have failed to reveal the whole truth.  None of them has investigated what was going on at the top, such as in the Cabinet and in the Home Ministry, during those dark days of 1st to 3rd November.

The official investigations and majority of court judgments have treated the genocide as if it is a collection of numerous acts of murder committed by some individuals and mobs led by them.  In actual fact, it was a single monstrous crime committed by the party in charge of executive power, on behalf of the ruling class and with the full support of the state machinery.

Today, the BJP-led government headed by Narendra Modi has reopened or reactivated some of the cases against individual Congress politicians who were seen on the streets of Delhi during 1st to 3rd November, 1984. 

Progressive and democratic organisations, including the Communist Ghadar Party of India, have been persistently demanding that those guilty of communal violence must be punished.  Those in command must be held responsible whenever the state fails to protect the lives of citizens.

While the conviction and punishment of individuals who led the murderous gangs in November 1984 is a necessary step, it is not enough.  Justice demands that all those who were in command during the genocide of 1984, during the demolition of Babri Masjid and the communal violence of 1992-93, during the Gujarat genocide of 2002 and all other acts of communal violence since then, need to be punished.  Until and unless this is done, justice would not have been delivered.

For the current BJP-led government to target only Congress leaders is nothing but revenge seeking.  It does not satisfy the people’s demand for justice.

The BJP-led government is not giving up the weapon of communal division and communal persecution.  On the contrary, it is carrying out constant propaganda about the dangers allegedly posed by “Islamic terrorists”, “Sikh terrorists” and Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh.  The stage is being set for further acts of communal violence. 

One important lesson from historical experience is not to believe the official propaganda about so-called threats to national unity and territorial integrity which allegedly come from Muslim and Sikh terrorists.  The biggest and main threat to the wellbeing, security and unity of our people comes from the ruling capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses.  The threat is further enhanced by the Indo-US alliance and the growing Anglo-American imperialist influence over India. 

The source of communalism and communal violence does not lie in the people and their beliefs, or in any particular party.  It lies in the criminal nature of the monopoly capitalists, who will go to any extent to maintain and consolidate their dictate.  It lies in the communal foundation of the so-called secular Indian state.

All the institutions and arms of this state, including the elected organs, the bureaucracy, the security forces, judiciary and legal system are designed to empower an exploiting minority to divide and rule over the exploited majority.

The existing state does not protect the right to conscience or the right to life as universal and inviolable rights of every member of society.  It defends the rule of the capitalist class, which organises and benefits from communal violence and every kind of sectarian division and infighting among the exploited and oppressed majority. 

This state is not an organ for uniting Indian people or for harmonising the interests of different classes or sections of society.  On the contrary, it is an organ for preventing the oppressed masses of people from uniting against their common exploiters and oppressors. 

From ancient times, people in this subcontinent have upheld the political principle that it is the duty of the raja to ensure prosperity and protection for the praja.  If a ruler oppresses and murders people instead of providing protection, it was considered to be the right and duty of the people to get rid of such a ruler.  In modern times, it is not a Raja but a class of capitalists who rule through the institutions of a centralised state machine.  Indian people have the right and the duty to get rid of this state and put an end to the rule of the capitalist minority.  In place of this communal instrument of capitalist rule, we must establish a new state of workers’ and peasants’ rule, which would defend everyone’s right to conscience and guarantee prosperity and protection for all.

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Nov 1-15 2019    Statements    Communalism     Popular Movements     Rights     2019   

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