BERKELEY, Calif. – A large group of protestors affiliated with the organization Sikhs For Justice vehemently voiced their opposition to Congress Party vice president Rahul Gandhi’s appearance here Sept. 11 to deliver a speech at the University of California, Berkeley.
The group carried signs noting how many members of their family had been killed during three days of rioting in November 1984, after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. An estimated 11,000 Sikhs were killed in the ensuing violence; Sikhs For Justice has consistently claimed that the Congress Party did nothing to stop the massacre and – furthermore – helped to aid the violence.
Jasbir Singh, from Hayward, Calif., held a sign saying 26 members of his family had been killed. In 2008, Central Bureau of Investigations officials interviewed Singh regarding his accusations against Congress politician Jagdish Tytler. Singh has said he witnessed Tytler participating in a mob outside a New Delhi hospital.
The protestors marched with tires around their necks, symbolizing the way their relatives had been killed: mobs allegedly draped tires around their victims’ necks and poured gasoline and chemicals to set the bodies on fire. Singh told India-West he feared returning to India because he too would be killed.
Sravanth Poreddy, who engaged in a counter-protest, told India-West that the group was incorrectly targeting Rahul Gandhi, who was 14 at the time of the riots. “No one endorses an incident like this,” he stated, noting that Congress has apologized.
During his speech, Gandhi addressed the protests outside, saying he supported them in their quest for justice.
“If there’s anything I can do to help them get justice, I will do it,” he said.
As the politician left the stage after his speech, he was met with cries of: “Rahul Gandhi, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.”