Scars of the carnage are still etched in the memories of widows of those whose husbands were lynched, burnt alive or were brutally murdered in the 1984 Sikh pogrom. Tales from the time still haunt the residents of ‘Widow Colony’ of Tilak Vihar in the national capital. They firmly believe that “only because of Gandhi family the whole Sikh Community suffered this huge loss which cannot be compensated
(My family members were burnt alive in front of my very own eyes)”
— Maya Kaur, wife of late Jagat Singh
Maya Kaur, who is now 59, still remembers the stifled cries of her father who was burnt alive by the mob in front of her. “My father was half-burnt and desperately wanted to have some water. I somehow managed to give little water to him but again the mob came, and he forced me to leave from there otherwise they would have killed me also. I have lost six members of my family during the massacre,” said Maya Kaur of Widow Colony, New Delhi.
Maya recalls how their home was attacked and five men, including her husband Jagat Singh, were ruthlessly killed by the murderous mob during the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre. “The widows have still not overcome the grief of that dark episode”, said Maya Kaur.
From Left: Ladki Bai (60), Janki Kaur (65), Maya Kaur (59), and Jamna Kaur (80) at the Widow Colony, New Delhi
“It was the top leaders of the Congress party who had abetted the mob in this monstrous crime against our community,” said Maya Kaur.
With the sentencing of Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment, the ghosts of 1984 anti-Sikh massacre in New Delhi have come back to haunt its perpetrators. On November 17, as the Delhi High Court gave its verdict on Sajjan Kumar, the women living in Widow Colony said that they were grateful for those who are still
fighting for justice but for them justice still seems only half-done as they demanded death penalty to all who were involved in gruesome killing of Sikhs across the country.
Widow Colony in Tilak Nagar was came into being after the government offered shelter to those families affected by the Sikh massacre of 1984. And every now and then, new controversies over the killings erupt, the spotlight returns to the colony wherethe widows are still struggling to rebuild their shattered lives. “I saw butcher Kishori Lal
leading the mob”
Widows of 1984 Sikh massacre living in devastating condition at the Widow Colony, Tilak Vihar
A widow at the colony, Janki Kaur, 65, who lost her husband Hakam Singh, is still awaiting justice. The mob had killed her husband, grandfather Ranjha Singh and sons, Swarup Singh and Daljit Singh. “Hang them all who were involved in 1984 Sikh massacre,” said a livid Janki Kaur.
The Delhi Hight Court has convicted Congress Leader Sajjan Kumar in 1984 Sikh Massacre
“I still remember the face of Kishori Lal, a butcher of the nearby area, carrying a big knife in his hand, leading the mob and inciting them to kill everybody wearing a turban. The mob identified all Sikh homes, pulling out men and kids. They raped women and girls, wherever they found,” a sobbing Janki Kaur said, while recalling the horrific incident. She alleged that many of those guilty – including several leaders of the Congress party, have gone unpunished and are still enjoying political patronage under Gandhi dynasty.
“Mera Pati or dono dewar ka kya kasur tha jo unhe maar dia, in sabko faansi honi chahiye (They should be hanged. For what fault they murdered my husband and brother in laws)”, was the angry feeling of another widow in her 60’s Ladki Bai. “Anyone who sported a turban and a beard like a Sikh were targeted during the riots,” said Ladki Bai.
Thirty-four years after the massacre, Ladki Bai and other widows of the Colony in Tilak Vihar and other areas of West Delhi await justice. According to official figures, over 3,000 people were killed in Delhi in the three days of violence.
The Congress party has denied the accusation of involvement of its leaders in the violence. The latest to jump on the ‘denial bandwagon’ are Rahul Gandhi and Punjab’s Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who said that the neither the Congress nor the Gandhi had any role to play in the rioting. Rahul Gandhi had refused to apologise for the riots that allegedly took place under the watchful eyes of his late father Rajiv Gandhi.
“The whole country knows that it was Rajiv Gandhi and his Congress party who were behind the Massacre of Sikhs in 1984. Most people who are aware of it probably know about Rajiv Gandhi’s insensitive comment ‘Jab bhi bada ped girta hai, dharti hilti hai’ (When a big tree falls, the earth shakes),” said Manjeet Kaur.
Thanks to PM Modi for setting up SIT
“Modi ji ka dhanyavad karti hun, jo unhone SIT ka gathan kia, tabhi aaj hatyaron ko saja ho rahi warna congress to aaj tak unko bacha rahi thi (I personally thank Modiji for setting up SIT, otherwise Congress has been shielding the killers till now),” said 80 year old widow Jamna kaur.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up by Modi-led BJP Government in 2015 for a fresh investigation into the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre. The SIT was constituted following a recommendation of a committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge justice (retd) GP Mathur.
The committee submitted its report to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in January 2015 recommending setting up of an SIT for a fresh probe into the massacre.
Last month, Naresh Sherawat, 68, and 55-year-old Yashpal Singh were convicted of killing the two men during the 1984 Sikh massacre in South Delhi’s Mahipalpur by a Delhi court. One of the two attackers has been sentenced to death, and the other will spend life in prison. They have also been fined Rs 35 lakh each. Yashpal Singh’s death penalty in the anti-Sikh riots is the first since 1996 when Kishori Lal, a butcher, was sentenced to death in at least five cases by lower courts. The Supreme Court later commuted it to life term.
Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga with Kapil Mishra during hunger strike in Tilak Vihar, New Delhi
How do you see the judgement of the Delhi High Court on Congress leader Sajjan Kumar involvement in the 1984 Sikh Massacre? The court has sentenced him to jail for life.
This verdict has brought some relief, but we would be happier if the court had sentenced him (Sajjan Kumar) to death. The court acknowledged that he was actively participating in the killings of innocent Sikhs.
What is your next move?
Our fight against the cold-blooded murderers of the Sikhs will not stop. We will appeal to the Supreme Court and demand death penalty for the heinous crimes he committed against humanity.
Your indefinite hunger strike is against Congress’s move to appoint Kamal Nath as MP Chief Minister. Do you feel that your hunger strike can change anything?
See, when our forefathers fought the British for Independence, many said that nothing would change. But we got Independence, after a long struggle for freedom. Similarly, I will keep on fighting until we get justice. I will try to make this hunger strike a public movement so that the Congress is left with no choice but to remove Kamal Nath as Chief Minister.
You may remember, in 2004, when the Congress decided to give tickets to Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, the people across the country protested against this move of the Congress, and the party rolled back its decision later.
Even during the Punjab Assembly elections in 2016, Kamal Nath was made party In-Charge of the Congress in the State, but when the controversy erupted, Capt Amarinder Singh felt that the party would not get the Sikh votes because of Kamal Nath. Kamal Nath was forced to resign within a week.
Now that the Congress does not need any Sikh votes in MP, the party is rewarding Kamal Nath for showing his ‘loyalty’ to the Gandhi family, especially during the 1984 Sikh massacre. In 1984, Rajeev Gandhi had said that “Jis Congress neta ke constituency me sabse jyada Sikh mare jaenge, hum unko inaam denge” (We will reward the Congress leader of that Constituency where highest number of Sikhs would be killed).
To lagta hai wahi inam aaj Rahul Gandhi Kamal Nath ko deh rahe hain. Kamal Nath ko CM banakar, Congress Sikho ke jakhm pe nakam lagane ka kaam kar rahi hai” (It seems the reward is being conferred upon Kamal Nath by Rahul Gandhi now. By appointing him as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Congress is rubbing salt on the wounds of the Sikh Community).
What are your demands?
The demand of my hunger strike is to replace Kamal Nath with someone else as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. I also demand a fast-track court be set up so that perpetrators like Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath may be tried and punished for what they had done to the innocent Sikhs.
To sit on hunger strike is your decision or you consulted about this to your party leaders?
This is not a political fight; it’s a fight for justice. We have been fighting for justice for the past 34 years.
Why did you choose to sit here (Tilak Vihar)? Why not in front of Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha?
I am not doing it for any public or media attention. I chose this place because the ‘widows colony,’ is here next to this very place. I am fighting for the widows of those who were brutally murdered in 1985 massacre.
Do you think that the SIT on anti-Sikh riots formed by Modi Govt has led to this conviction?
Yes, definitely. Last month, one of the two attackers convicted of killing two men during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has been sentenced to death by Delhi court and the other convict will have to spend life in prison. The formation of SIT by Narendra Modi Government has revived the hopes of the 1984 victims that they will get justice. It is only because of SIT that the senior Congress leader is convicted. Otherwise, they were roaming freely all over the country under the ‘political patronage’ offered to them by the Gandhi family.
Why do you think Sikh community had to wait 34 years for justice?
See, in the last 34 years, the Congress party ruled the country for over 25 years. Despite incontrovertible evidences given by the Mishra Committee against Kamal Nath’s involvement and the statement by senior journalist Monish Sanjay Suri of Indian Express, where he explicitly said that he was an eyewitness to Kamal Nath’s involvement in the Sikh massacre, Kamal Nath is enjoying political support of the Gandhis and is still roaming free all over the country. The Congress provided patronage and later protected the perpetrators, the appointment of Kama Nath further underscores the fact that Congress never wanted to give justice to the victims of 1984.