The Struggle to Punish the Guilty Continues
29 years after the cold-blooded, organised genocide of Sikhs by the ruling Congress Party, the struggle to ensure that the guilty are punished continues unabated. Through political protests on the streets and other actions as well as legal battles in the courts, the struggle continues, to secure justice for the victims of this horrific massacre and punishment for its organizers and perpetrators. Activists and supporters of Lok Raj Sangathan, Communist Ghadar Party of India, Sikh Forum, Forgotten Citizens, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, SUCI-Communist, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, families of the victims, youth, women and workers gathered at Jantar Mantar to remember this tragic event and pledge to continue the struggle to its logical conclusion, when those responsible for the genocide are punished for their crimes and a system is established in which such state organized genocides will never take place.
Banners declaring "Punish the guilty of the genocide of November 1984!", "Down with state organized communal violence and terror!", "The Indian state is communal, not the Indian people!" attracted hundreds of people to the site of the dharna. Participants carried placards with slogans such as "Down with state organized communal and sectarian violence!", "Down with state terrorism!", "Punish the guilty!", "Congress Party and BJP are both communal to the core!", "Down with the policy of divide-and-rule!".
Speakers at the rally pointed out that even after all these years, no party in power at the center has bothered to ensure that the guilty are punished. Instead, in these 29 years, many more communal massacres have taken place, such as in 1992-93, 2002, the Assam massacres, the Kandhamal massacres, the recent communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and so on. Many of them were of the view that precisely because the guilty of 1984 were never punished, the subsequent massacres have been
carried out with impunity.
The repeated incidences of state organized violence are a testimony to the fact that organizing communal violence continues to be a preferred weapon in the hands of the ruling elite to keep the people divided and use them as vote banks by playing on their fears during elections, speakers said. In the run-up to the Delhi elections, the leaders of the Congress Party are accusing those of the BJP of organizing the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat genocide, while the leaders of the BJP are in-turn accusing the Congress of organizing the genocide of Sikhs. Both are telling the truth. In this, their aim is not to see that the guilty are punished. Instead, they are actually threatening the people with the possibility of more such genocides, whoever comes to power.
Among those who addressed the rally were Birju Nayak - Secretary of Delhi Council of Lok Raj Sangathan and candidate for the Delhi Assembly elections from Tughlakabad, Jarnail Singh, senior Journalist and a committed fighter for punishing the guilty, Renu Nayak of the Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Wing Commander Chhatwal, the chief organizer of the Sikh Forum, S Raghavan, President of Lok RaJ Sangathan, advocate H.S.Phoolka of the Supreme Court who has been fighting for justice for the victims of 1984, comrade Tyagi of SUCI-Communist and comrade Prakash Rao, spokesperson of Communist Ghadar Party of India. Nirpreet Kaur, daughter of one of the victims of the genocide, narrated at length the entire sequence of events that led to her father’s death at the hands of Congress goons, and how the neighbours helped their family, even at the risk of being targeted themselves. She questioned the court, which believed in the testimonies of the policemen who came to the defence of the accused, Sajjan Kumar, when the entire evidence was against him.
S. Raghavan, president of Lok Raj Sangathan drew attention to the fact that the Indian state is communal and uses communalism, communal violence and state terrorism to divide and divert people and impose their rule. Our rulers have learnt this from their British colonial masters and continue to use it against our people, to instill fear in them and to keep them as their captive vote banks. The root of state-organised communal violence lies in the present political process where people are marginalized and have no say in actions and decisions concerning them. To put an end to communal violence we need to thoroughly overhaul this political process. The only way we can ensure that the guilty will be punished it to fight to establish a system in which the people will have political power in their own hands, make laws that will uphold the concept of command responsibility and punish not just those who execute such massacres, but also the real organisers, those who hold positions of power and fail to use their position to prevent such crimes.
The demonstration was concluded by Prakash Rao, spokesperson of Communist Ghadar Party of India, who pointed out that we cannot expect justice from parties such as the Congress and the BJP. It is no accident that none of the guilty has been punished for genocide of 1984 even after 29 years, because it was consciously organized and the highest leadership of the Congress Party and state were the organizers. Likewise, we cannot expect that the government will enact a law that can actually prevent state organized communal massacres like 1984 and 2002. What justice can you expect from a mass murderer? If and when they finally enact a law, they will make sure that it should be written in such a way that the guilty of 1984, 2002 etc can never be punished. We must push hard that the government enact a strong law, as proposed by various activists who have been involved in the struggle to punish the guilty.
He reiterated that the present state is the creation of the British, who implanted the seeds of communalism on our soil, which our rulers continue to nurture and use it to divide and divert people’s struggle. We will continue this struggle. The people of India will create a new state, which will guarantee that such tragedies never happen and the guilty are punished.
The demonstration ended with a song exhorting all citizens and the youth to rise up, unite, end the injustice and create a New India.
A press release issued by Lok Raj Sangathan on the occasion stated that “Lok Raj Sangathan has been consistently opposing all forms of state terrorism and communal persecution, demanding severe punishment for those guilty of organizing sectarian violence for narrow partisan ends, as well for those guilty of dereliction of responsibility to protect people's lives. We have always believed that if the guilty of 1984 had been punished promptly and severely, it would have acted as a strong deterrent against subsequent genocides.
It is also our firm belief that increasing criminalization of politics in our country stems from the fact that the present system marginalizes people from political power. This is why Lok Raj Sangathan has been persistently fighting for a new political system and process wherein people will be empowered, political parties will be required to enable the people to rule; and parties that commit crimes against the people will have no space to exist.
On this solemn day, in remembrance of the victims of the 1984 genocide, Lok Raj Sangathan calls on all justice-loving people, organizations and political forces to continue their struggle to ensure punishment for those guilty of organising communal and sectarian violence, and for those in responsible command positions who participated in it or allowed it to happen. Let us advance our struggle for justice with the perspective of creating a new political process, where the people will be empowered to set the agenda and run the affairs of society.”
Candle light march and play
At 5 pm, on November 1, families of victims of the November 84 genocide, as well as activists working tirelessly for ensuring justice, gathered at Jantar Mantar for a candle light march. This program was organized by concerned organizations with Nirpreet Kaur playing an important guiding role.
The march was preceded by a moving play performed by a group from Patiala, depicting the struggle for justice of a young widow whose beautiful family had been torn asunder by the murderous mobs29 years ago. She had lost her army husband, and her two sons, and she had been raped by the gangsters led by Congress leaders.
Effigies of Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were burnt, before those present marched with candles to signify their protest.