Sikh Genocide 1984

Sikh Genocide 1984

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots or the 1984 Sikh Massacre or the 1984 genocide of Sikhs was a series of pogroms  directed against Sikhs in India, by anti-Sikh mobs, most notably by members of the Congress party, in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Official Indian government reports admit to about 2800 deaths across India, including 2100 in Delhi.  Other independent sources estimate the number of deaths to be around 8,000,  including at least 3,000 in Delhi.  The Central Bureau of Investigation, the main Indian investigating agency, believes the acts of violence were organised with the support from the then Delhi police and some central government officials.  Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister after his mother’s death and, when asked about the riots, said “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes

The sporadic violence continued as a result of an armed Sikh separatist seeking independence. In June 1984, during Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack the Golden Temple and eliminate any insurgents, as it had been occupied by Sikh separatists who were allegedly stockpiling weapons. Later operations by Indian paramilitary forces were initiated to clear the separatists from the countryside of Punjab state.

The violence in Delhi was triggered by the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India’s prime minister, on 31 October 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards in response to her actions authorising the military operation. The Indian government reported 2,700 deaths in the ensuing chaos. In the aftermath of the riots, the Indian government reported 20,000 had fled the city, however the People’s Union for Civil Liberties reported “at least” 1,000 displaced persons.  The most affected regions were the Sikh neighbourhoods in Delhi. Human rights organisations and newspapers across India believe the massacre was organised.  The collusion of political officials in the massacres and the judiciary’s failure to penalise the killers alienated normal Sikhs and increased support for the Khalistan movement.  The Akal Takht, the governing religious body of Sikhism, considers the killings to be a genocide.

First day (31 October)

  • 09:20: Indira Gandhi is shot by two of her Sikh security guards at her residence, No. 1 Safdarjung Road, and rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
  • 10:50: Indira Gandhi dies.
  • 11:00: All India Radio listeners learn that the two security guards who shot Indira Gandhi were Sikhs.
  • 16:00: Rajiv Gandhi returns from West Bengal and reaches AIIMS. Stray incidents of attacks in and around that area.
  • 17:30: The motorcade of President Zail Singh, who is returning from a foreign visit, is stoned as it approaches AIIMS.
evening and night
  • Organized and well equipped gangs of ruffians set out in different directions from AIIMS.
  • The violence, including violence towards Sikhs and destruction of Sikh properties, spreads.
  • Rajiv Gandhi is sworn in as the Prime Minister.
  • Senior advocate and BJP leader Ram Jethmalani, meets Home Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and urges him to take immediate steps to protect Sikhs from further attacks.
  • Delhi’s Lt. Governor, P.G. Gavai and Police Commissioner, S.C. Tandon, visit some of the affected areas.

Second day (1 November)

  • The first killing of a Sikh occurs in East Delhi.
  • 09:00: Armed mobs take over the streets of Delhi and launch a massacre.
Among the first targets were Gurdwaras, the holy temples of Sikhs

The worst affected areas are low income colonies like Trilokpuri, Shahdara, Geeta Colony, Mongolpuri, Sultanpuri and Palam Colony. The few areas where the local police stations take prompt measures against mobs see hardly any killings or major violence. Farsh Bazar and Karol Bagh are two such examples.

Third day (2 November)

Curfew is announced throughout Delhi, but is not enforced. The Army deployed throughout Delhi too but ineffective because the police did not co-operate with soldiers (who are not allowed to open fire without the consent of senior police officers and executive magistrates).

Mobs continue to rampage.

Fourth day (3 November)

Violence continues. By late evening, the national Army and local police units work together to subdue the violence. After law enforcement intervention, violence is comparatively mild and sporadic. In Delhi, the dead bodies of the victims of riots were taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi and Civil Hospital Mortuary Tis hazari, Delhi. via Wikipedia 

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