Groups of people with weapons and arms went from one house to another, from one shop to another pulling men, kids and women – young and elderly – killing, burning and massacring all. It was a very bad time when even the distinguished among the Sikhs were not safe. Almost 4000 people died by unofficial figures.
Two Sikhs were given Capital Punishment for the murder – Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. Beant Singh was directly involved but Satwant Singh wasn’t. At least there was no conclusive evidence except for circumstantial evidence. Despite the objections, Satwant was also hanged to death.
In all these years, all that has been forgotten. And that all has been but forgotten is a tribute to the Sikh / Punjabi grit and never say die attitude. After all those incidents Sikhs again emerged as the most prosperous community in India.
I wanted to touch base with people across the range to see what they remembered of those days and what lessons we can learn from that time.
Interestingly, one thing was common, unlike other incidents of this proportion and type, the neighbors helped other neighbors. Although, some mischievous minds tried to color those events as “Hindu-Sikh” riots, it has subsequently been termed as Anti-Sikh riots. Sadly they were not Riots! They were massacres. Riots denote two parties fighting. Sikhs hardly even fought. And it was a massacre by One Political Party of One Religious Group.
From tomorrow, we will bring one experience sharing at a time. They are from eyes and minds of different people – and will cover wide range of opinion. That’s how should be seen. We have a lot of lessons to learn in our country. Maybe we all can pitch in with our thoughts on how we can avoid such events in future.