Powerful expression of political unity against state terrorism
On 1st November, mass protests were held all over Punjab, in Delhi and some other cities on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the brutal murder of thousands of people of the Sikh faith by those in charge of the Government of India. The capital city witnessed one of the most powerful expressions of political unity, on this occasion, in the form of a joint protest march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar.
In spite of the fact that so many different organisations were involved, the mass action stood out for the exemplary discipline that was maintained, both during the march and at the meeting at Jantar Mantar. Participants all marched in an orderly formation, raising a common set of slogans and demands. Each speaker at the meeting kept within the 5-minute limit. There was no difference between big and small parties. There were no VIPs or VVIPs. The slogans included:
We want justice, not compensation!
Those guilty of the 1984 genocide must be punished!
An attack on One is an Attack on All!
Unite to end State Terrorism!
This mass action in Delhi was an initiative of Lok Raj Sangathan, to which a wide range of political parties and people’s organisations responded. Lakhs of leaflets were distributed in preparation, by hand and through email to different parts of the country. Thousands of posters were put up all over the city, announcing the rally and calling on the people to unite against state terrorism.
Initiating the meeting at Jantar Mantar, S. Raghavan, the President of Lok Raj Sangathan pointed out that the Indian state has failed in its raj dharma. He called on the people to fulfill their praja dharma by fighting for the establishment of a modern democratic state that will ensure prosperity and protection for all.
In one voice, speaker after speaker reiterated that what happened during 1st to 3rd November, 1984, was not a riot. It was a genocide, an organised massacre of people belonging to the Sikh faith by those in power. The past thirty years of hiding the truth and denying justice has exposed the existing State as an instrument of violence against its own citizens.
The speakers included Comrade Prakash Rao of Communist Ghadar Party, Advocate HS Phoolka, Advocate Shahid Ali of United Muslims' Front, Shri N D Pancholi of Citizens for Democracy, Shri Salim Engineer of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Shri Jarnail Singh, Shri Rafiq Jabbar Mulla of the Social Democratic Party of India, Major General MS Chaddha of Sikh Forum, Shri S Q R Ilyas from the Welfare Party of India, Comrade Siddhantkar of CPI-ML (New Proletarian), Ms. Renu Nayak of Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Shri Akhlak Ahmed from APCR, Shri Ansar ul Haq of Popular Front of India, Shri Sharikh Ansar of Student Islamic Organisation, and Ms Narpreet Kaur, a victim of the 1984 genocide.
At the end of the meeting, Punjabi Rangmanch from Patiala presented a moving street play, titled "the genocide of 1984". In conclusion, Guruji Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan gave a rousing call to the people to escalate the struggle for truth and justice, with the perspective of establishing a modern democratic State committed to ensure prosperity and protection for all.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar congratulates Lok Raj Sangathan for this historic initiative, which has brought out the fact that the struggle for truth and justice is not a struggle of people of a particular religion alone. It is a common struggle of the people of India to end the adharma of a State that oppresses and kills, rather than protecting all its citizens without exception.
A declaration (see box) was unanimously passed at the Rally.
Declaration of the Peoples' Rally in New Delhi on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the genocide of Sikhs
November 1, 2014, New Delhi
We, the people of Hindostan, belonging to all faiths, all regions of our ancient country, have been fighting ceaselessly for thirty long years to ensure that the truth behind the carnage of 1984 be placed by the government of India before the people of our country, and those guilty of organizing it be punished. We have further been demanding that mechanisms be established to ensure that such acts of state terrorism can never again be organised.
Ten governments have come and gone in this period. Ten Commissions of Enquiry have submitted their reports. Till today, no government has accepted that it was the Indian state that organized the genocide. No one has been punished for the brutal murder in broad daylight of over 10,000 innocent people, the rape of women and girls, and the widespread destruction of property.
Those in authority are advising us that "we must forget and forgive". We can never forget that in 1984, the government completely violated its Rajdharma. It betrayed its sacred responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of people. Instead of being protectors of the people, the government, the police, the courts, became marauders and destroyers of the lives of innocent people. The army, which is supposed to protect the people of the country, remained locked up in the Cantonment for three whole days and nights while the streets of Delhi and other cities were burning with the corpses of innocent people.
We cannot forget that 1984 was neither the first, nor the last act of brutal state terrorism organised by those in power. The agony of the people of Assam, Punjab, Kashmir, Manipur, the massacres which followed the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the Gujarat genocide of 2002, Muzaffarnagar in 2013 — the list is endless.
We the people of Hindostan can only conclude that state terrorism has become the preferred method of rule in our country.
Disinformation is systematically carried out against different sections of our people on the basis of their religion, language, region etc painting them as "terrorist", "anti national", and so on. Passions are inflamed against this or that section of our people. Acts of individual terrorism are used to justify state terrorism targeting entire communities, and persecution of people fighting for justice and rights.
When the rulers fail in their duty of protecting people and their lives, what is the solution? The solution is that the people must fulfill their dharma. We must do our duty.
We must unite and fight to create a modern democratic state that will ensure security and prosperity for all by guaranteeing human rights and having enabling mechanisms to ensure their realization. This is Praja dharma, this is the duty of our people today.
This Rally organized on the 30th anniversary of the genocide of Sikhs declares:
We will never forget and forgive!
The guilty of November 1984 must be punished!
Unite and fight to end state terrorism!
Voices of Opposition
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1984 genocide of Sikhs, correspondents of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar interviewed activists of various organisations. We publish some significant excerpts of these interviews
I am Inam-ur-Rehman, from Jamait-e-Islami Hind
Q. Who was responsible for the killings in 1984, 1993, 2002
A: At that time too, the ruling class organized the violence, and today too it the ruling class which is the organizer. 1984 was an example of state terrorism; again, the state was responsible for events of 2002 and more recently in 2013 in Muzaffarnagar. It happened under the protection of the state, and there is every evidence of the state’s hands in them.
Q. What is the reason for it?
A. Till today, the British colonial policy of divide and rule is followed in one way or another in our country. We saw from the recent events, how the people of different communities were pitted against each other, in the context of the UP elections. Such issues were raised in the context of Maharashtra elections too. Now that elections are due in Delhi, we are witness to conflicts in Trilokpuri. They use the same tactics every time there is going to be elections and they want to come to power. In every riot, the police, i.e., the state, has played a particularly dirty role. Instead of defending the victims they have been behind the goondas and anti-social elements.
Q. What should people do to ensure that the guilty are punished?
A. Like we are out on the streets today, we have to fight legal battles also. We should use the law, and build up the pressure and do whatever we can do. We raise consciousness also, so that altogether we are able to build up a strong movement.
Q. Before we conclude, anything more you would like to say?
A. Just this, we must all unite to fight against oppression, whoever may be the target of such oppression
Shaheen Kaushal, Social Democratic Party of India
Q. In your view, what was the cause for the 1984 genocide?
A. I would not call what happened in 1984, a riot. It was a pre-planned conspiracy. In a riot, the people are randomly attacked. In 1984, on the other hand, Sikhs were particularly targeted by the attackers, who picked on them very deliberately. The effects are still being felt after 30 years.
We have gathered here today to show that we are all together. Whether Sikh, Hindu, Muslim or Christian, we are all here because we aspire for a new India. We will see this new India, when we are all together on one platform; have one view; we are united and linked like a necklace of pearls. We will then be able to unmask the criminals.
We have awakened. We will not rest till we get justice, and those criminals will have to run from here. I call out to all my brothers and sisters in Hindostan, to support this struggle for justice, for those who continue to suffer from that injustice. They have been going from pillar to post yet they have been denied justice. We will to unite and compel that justice be done.
I am Rajvansh Kaur from Delhi; I am a film-maker and I am accompanying Ajit Kaur today
Q. Why did you decide to participate in this rally today?
A. I am here today because I was fortunate enough to escape death in 1984, and since I am alive today, I feel that it is my moral duty to unite with all in one voice. This is very necessary today. We should be on one platform that will drive fear in the government, be it Congress or BJP or AAP.
Q. What was the cause of the genocide?
A. Let us be very clear, this was not a riot, this was not a Hindu-Muslim, or Sikh-Muslim conflict, it was not a confrontation between two communities. Foremost, we must stop calling it anti-Sikh riots. It was a murderous attack on the Sikhs. Those who saved us were Hindu families, those who saved us and fed us were Muslim families. What happened was organized.The mobs that were going around were all similar. They were goondas going on a killing spree they came in trucks, they had the same chemicals – all of which showed that the government had a hand in it. Indira Gandhi was not some great saint, whose death should have set the entire country on fire. It was a murderous attack on the victims, it was a genocide.
My name is Surendra Pal Singh, from the Punjabi Rangmanch, Patiala
Q. Who was responsible for the genocide of Sikhs in 1984?
A. The political system was responsible, the government had a hand in it; it was politically motivated. Masses of people were not involved, in fact, they saved those who were being attacked. It was carried out by politically organized mobs, who massacred about 3000 Sikhs in Delhi, even going by official count. We must learn the lessons, else what happened 30 years ago can happen again. If the guilty had been punished, then 1993 and 2002 would not have happened, but even today, the guilty are being protected.
Q. What kind of political system is it that was responsible for this?
A. There is something very wrong with our political system where people are divided on the basis of caste and religion. These politicians do not want us to unite as human beings, that we live in harmony, so even today they continue to divide us on the basis of caste and religion.
I am Panini Anand, a journalist since the last 15 years, in Delhi
Q. What was the reason behind the genocide and who was responsible for it?
A. In all riots whether they took place 5 years ago, or 50 years ago or even 100 years ago, people may have had a difference of opinion, animosity…. They fought each other for a while, but they did not continue it forever. But when it is organized and targeted at any particular community, then the reason is not social or personal but is political. This is what happened in 1984.
Q. What can people do about the demand that the guilty must be punished?
A. People cannot decide, but they can take up the demand, intensify their struggle to exert pressure on those who rule, demand that they rule in the interests of the people, in the interests of justice. It is necessary to demand that the families of those who died, those who suffered damages or losses must be compensated. As ordinary citizens, we have no power in our hands. But what we have are memories, which we must keep alive, we have the power of speech so we must keep alive the memories, we must remember injustice and fight till justice is delivered.
Q. What is the reason that those guilty of the 1984 crime are still to be punished?
A. The reason for this is that the criminals are those who hold power, the criminals belong to them and are backed by them. We cannot expect that those on behalf of whom the crimes were committed will punish the criminals. It is not just one party that is criminal, one was responsible for Gujarat, another for Delhi and a third for Muzafarnagar. All their hands are soiled, and they save not only their own but one another as well. In the Parliament, they are all exposed and perforce they have to play dumb. Even one question, and each one will be found guilty. That is why they have to save each other, and that is why on the most important questions they remain silent.