An Indian Civilizational Perspective

1984 Delhi massacres: The week that was (Part III)

Today we bring the third part of the series on the 1984 massacres. The experience is from a friend named Sanjay.

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I have a story of loot and violence, but no loss of life. I was in BHU doing engineering that time. Some organised groups of goondas used force to enter shops, houses, and other Sikh establishments, looted and put on fire. I was an eye witness to one of those.

The force was so blatant that it could be controlled only by shoot-out. I guess the police was told to keep quite, as there was no sign of them all over.

What I saw was mere display of hatred and greed, where people simply took it as an opportunity to settle the scores.

Some of the violence was foolishly invited by Sikhs by displaying jubilation and boasting after the news of Indira’s death came in. People were obviously enraged with Sikh militancy, but that was no reason to victimize a lot of innocent civilians of the same community. But then, everything is not logical that happens.

Here is one of my personal account: Just outside BHU campus gate, there were two shops owned by Sikhs – Punjab Stationery Mart, and Shankar Provision Store. I used to buy engineering drawing material from the first one, and never visited the latter, as obviously I ate at the hostel mess.

At 4 pm, when I went down to the market, I could feel a lot sensation all over, as if something is due. The Sikh brothers of Punjab Stationery Mart were standing outside their shop, and touching their crouches to adjust their belts on their bellies, and literally intoxicated at the news of Gandhi’s assassination.

They were talking to their friends – see what happens if someone takes a panga with us. I didn’t care much as I thought it is their day to vent out. I came back from the market after half hour.

Then we learnt about massive violence in market about 6 pm, and we reached back to see what is going on. (Guess we were silly in those days (20 years old) as it never occur to us that we shouldn’t be going where violence is going on, instead we were like too sure of ourselves and wanted to take a look).

The Punjab Stationery Mart was completely burned down, all material thrown and smoke coming out. One rickshaw-wala told me that just one hour back a bunch of enraged people beat up the Sikh brothers when they lit up some fire crackers. Then the crowd burned the same crackers in their shop and ran away.

On the other hand, the other store fellow was an extremely courteous person, but his shop was fuming too with oil and grains burning. We saw a bunch of kurta dhoti guys looting the shop and burning it with wood mashaals. The poor chap got crushed for just being a Sikh. At least in Varanasi, the word of mouth was that some Sikhs were celebrating the assassination, which led to violence against a lot of people without discrimination.

I am sure the experience in other places would be different.

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