Kids Corner


Are We Ready For Another 1984?






The coals are still red underneath the white dust of the fire of 1984. Today my eyes are having a downpour, my legs are trembling, my hands are shaking, my throat pleading to me to shriek out and wail. 

I was studying in Grade 6 when I had seen the fire in the middle of the road divider of Hussainganj and Burlington Crossing way down to Charbagh in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh, India). 

I was returning from school in the afternoon of 31st October 1984 in the school rickshaw. The rickshaw puller stopped paddling, slowing down to see the killings and the burning of live innocent human beings. I still remember his dark smiling face at the gruesome sight.

I saw that all those who were being dragged to the divider of the street were beaten up by mobs of five to 20 people or even more. Their turbans were thrown off their heads and truck and car tyres were being put over their heads and set alight.

Their flailing hands were caught and tied, some with the very same hair that had been hurriedly shorn off the heads of these men while they were being beaten.  

Seeing the sight, my young mind could only think that those who were being burnt alive looked like my father or my elder brothers. They all had turbans and were Sikhs.

Two men from the mob came to the rickshaw to check whether there was a Sikh among the kids. He shouted at the rickshaw-walla: “Is there any son of a snake here”.

The rickshaw puller looked at me and laughed. I understood that now they can kill me too. I brought my arms together near my chest and hid my karra. The Rickshaw-walla was a bit kind to me and replied, “No there is no Sikh kid here”.

Slowly, he began to pedal the tricycle, looking back at me and smiling at me from time to time. I was all quiet as the long stretch from my school in Hazratganj to my house in Alambagh was about 6 kilometers.

And I saw even worse all the way home.

Once home, I saw my mom waiting anxiously for me. A number of Sikh families had gathered there, huddled and whispering in fear. I cried out loud to my mom who hid me under her duppatta and took me inside the house.

Next day the news reached us that my elder cousin brother was killed by a mob of Hindus in distant Bihar. More news came about my uncle’s house being pelted with stones.

And that a Sikh trying to save himself and family took out his gun but before he could use it to defend himself, he was shot dead by the DM (District Magistrate).

Soon, there was a flood of such horror stories.

I remember parents gathering necessary things and making a small bundle and father giving instructions to mom to leave the house in case of an attack and run towards the Gurdwara which was located nearby.

No meal was prepared during those 6-7 days at my house. Everywhere cries were heard. Curfew was imposed after five days. And we waited for things to return to ‘normal‘.

31 years have passed since then.

I have entered mid-life. But I pose a question to myself: have things become normal? And I get an answer instantly: No. They’ve only got worse. 

About two years ago, we bought a new house in Manas Nagar. We gladly brought Guru Granth Sahib to our new home too. On the right side of our house lives a Brahmin Tripathi family and on the left a Brahmin Sharma family.

The very next day our neighbours came and the taunt started: - “You belong to a minority community in India. There were three donkeys: one Manmohan Singh, one Zail singh and third, you the Singh.”

We were shocked to hear this and we had an argument with them.

Soon, there was another incident. The women of the neighbourhood, most of them Brahmins and Srivastavas, objected to us feeding the street dogs in the locality and demanded that we feed the cows as they are “maata” - mother!

Another Hindu remarked a few days later: “You should go to Punjab, why are you here? We do not want to see Sardars here. You should leave, or else ...”

Talk then turned to the evening of 31 October, 1984. They began to speak openly: “You are Sikhs. You Sardars, don’t forget we all have vehicles in our houses and we will take out the petrol and pour over you and your house and burn you alive.”

A mob gathered. They called out my brother and started an argument with him without any cause or reason. I was inside. I heard the commotion and the angry words and insults. There were shouts of “Beat the Sardar!”

I dialled 100. The police came in fifteen minutes. But nothing happened. They saw the mob and talked to some of them. Our neighbours winked at the policemen. No justice was done. They went away asking us to leave this place and look for somewhere else to go.

The only reason: we are Sikhs.

We came to know later that these neighbours do not allow any other religion to enter this locality. Once they had beaten a Muslim and he too left this place. These Hindus do not let animals to walk on their streets, even beating the cow who they call ”maata”. They do not feed their maata and she can be seen munching on polythene bags and garbage on the roads.

I look at the war in Syria, I look at the war against religions, I look at the Muslim brother being killed for eating meat, I look at Sikhs being beaten and made prisoners for no reason, I look at Christians being killed – what happened to the Indian Constitution and its promised secularism?

There is no justice where a voice of minority is not heard and that voice has to gasp for breath to live.

Hindutava has grown in India. Hindus have taken a strangle-hold on all the administration. Right from the Police to the Courts, all over India, Hindus have their hold.

I have to say with regret that our Sikh leaders are asleep, there is no unity among us, we go to gurdwaras to have langar and chat sessions, we speak Hindi at home amongst our kids and feel proud to be an Indian, our women and girls speak Hindi and try to imitate them, many even marrying Hindu boys and men.

Our kids are not being taught Sikh History, most importantly about 1984. We as Sikhs do not give intellectual knowledge to our kids. Our preachers at the gurdwara do not give the information and knowledge that speaks of our rights.

Outwardly we say we are Sikhs but are we really walking in the footsteps of Guru Nanak? 

Do we ever talk of 1984 amongst our families and to our kids? Do we tell our kids the stories of 1984, leave alone 1947? Do we ever greet Sikhs with a GurFateh when we pass them on the street? Do we help Sikhs in need? Do we try to accommodate Sikhs looking for employment?

Isn’t it the time to amend our gurdwara policies and laws to meet our current and urgent needs?

Is it time for a Sant Bhindranwale? [I do not buy the government propaganda created maliciously to malign him and his memory! He was a true leader.]

I sign off my mind with so many queries. With dread in my heart, I ask my final questions:

Are we waiting for another 1984?

Are we ready?


October 14, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Harmeet Singh (United States), October 14, 2015, 12:35 PM.

That's disgusting. It shows the uncivilized and inhumane character of Hindu India, but things like these need to be properly documented (and photograped) and reported in the Sikh media if we want to bring the face of Hindu racism to the world. Many Sikhs who have been assaulted by Hindus during 1984 never even documented their statements in a form accessible to the public and to the future generations. This needs to change.

2: Ari Singh (Sofia, Bulgaria), October 14, 2015, 4:25 PM.

I was in India last year and I can say that the Sikhs there are not ready for another 1984? Sikhs do not conform to the teachings of Guru Nanak - Guru Gobind Singh. During my time in India I noticed that there was tension between Hindus and Muslims and between Hindus and Sikhs. But not between Sikhs and Muslims. Therefore, both Muslims and Sikhs should beware. In days of yore, every Sikh was a fortress. Now, I suggest at least every Sikh home to be a fortress (equipped with defence weapons). Sikhs should also try to move back to Punjab where there is a shortage of manpower. Non-Punjabis are being encouraged by Hindus to immigrate to Punjab which could be disastrous as this will eventually lead to out-numbering the Sikhs. Documentation of inhumanity treatment will not be enough in Hindu India, even though it should still be done. There is no justice even with full documentation. India is ruled by mob justice. The only defence to mob justice is a physical counter defence.

3: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), October 14, 2015, 4:49 PM.

It's really hard for me to write a civil response to this article. Reading about her experiences, both in her past and recent ones is a traumatizing experience. I can't even fathom how people who experienced these atrocities are scarred. This article is very disturbing, but necessary. Thank you.

4: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), October 14, 2015, 5:15 PM.

The situation in Punjab is eerily similar to what happened just before 1984. A religious cult committing blasphemous acts is being endorsed by the state government, rampant drug abuse, Guru Granth Sahib birs are being burnt and desecrated. Only difference this time is that there is no Bhindranwale.

5: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 14, 2015, 6:06 PM.

Sikhs are nor ready for another 1984 and how can they be -- will India allow Sikhs to arm themselves? Sikhs would still be sitting ducks before police-supported Hindu mobs. Last time the Sikhs in Punjab were able to get some arms and give some response, next time around even this won't happen. Initiative, imagination, vision, leadership are the need of the hour!

6: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 14, 2015, 6:43 PM.

Unfortunately with a divided diaspora arrogantly slipping into uncivilized Hindu practices and traits, there can never be a good or happy ending. If you're a Saint-Warrior then you're always ready to defend the faith, yourself and your people. Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh forbid us to be cowardly; instead, we should always live and act in chardi kalaa.

7: Harmeet Singh (United States), October 14, 2015, 7:10 PM.

I agree that Sikhs should move to Punjab, but there is no economic base in Punjab for Sikhs to rely on. Secondly, the threat of police repression on Sikhs is enormous in Punjab, yet we still haven't figured out how to take preventative measures even after 30 years. As of now, only thing any individual Sikh in India can do is to take preventive measure in face of the imminent threat of Hindutva. We must expose and document and be vigilant of Hindu racism in India. Make a video of these racist neighbors and the, Police and document Hindu mob aggression against Sikhs. Post it online and let each picture speak a thousand words.

8: Satpal Kaur (USA), October 14, 2015, 7:54 PM.

Don't underestimate the power of the social media. Look at the outcry caused by the videos showing brutal assault on Blacks by the Police here. Make a video of these low-life scums who harass you in India. Post it on YouTube.

9: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 14, 2015, 9:51 PM.

What have our 'elite' done since 1984? Especially in India? What is direly needed in that godforsaken land is education and contraception.

10: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 15, 2015, 1:40 AM.

While there is still time, Sikhs should try to move out of UP, Bihar and other Hindu-dominated areas. Punjab is not an option as its economy is in shambles and cannot offer livelihood to those who move there, the people in Punjab themselves keep crying for Govt. grants all the time. Those who get an opportunity should move out of India and those who don't should consider moving to South or West India which are relatively safer and also have a good economy.

11: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 15, 2015, 2:44 AM.

I generally do not agree with what Hindus say about Sikhs but I certainly agree with what they said about MS and ZS in this story. The former being a dysfunctional PM and a puppet allowed massive corruption and scams under his watch and ruined the Indian economy and brought economic hardship to the general population. While we understand that he had no power, being the visible face of the Govt., he created more animosity for Sikhs. The latter being an incompetent and corrupt Home Minister played a big role in messing up Punjab. Fueled by govt propaganda, Indians merely used them to justify their Sikh stereotypes.

12: Jeejay (India), October 15, 2015, 3:22 AM.

It is just waiting to happen. Another 1984. And it is going to be worse than 1984.

13: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India ), October 15, 2015, 10:55 AM.

In the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide our whole family was given shelter by a sehajdhari Hindu family for many days. When I went to a colony of affectedSsikh families with a Hindu friend to fill forms for aid from some foreign Sikh NGO, I saw one very gentle elder hindu giving five hundred rupees to each family in a dignified manner. PUCL, PUDR and many more civil liberties organisations helped a lot. All fingers are not equal. When police brutality was very high in Punjab, it was IG Border Range, Chaman Lal who resigned in protest. Who can forget ASI Jugti Ram of Delhi police, posted in the most severely affected trans-Jamuna area who helped so much. He was dismissed from service by government. I compare him to Nawab Malerkotla of the present time. His photo must be in every home and gurudwara. What have our Sikh bodies done for such people as also poor Sikhs except putting more gold and marble on gurdwara walls? Where is our simplicity, honesty, humility gone? Are we or our gurdwaras treating poor people as equals? Sorry to say, but the amswer is mostly no. We are fighting within our families, husband with wife, brother with brother, conducting extravagant marriages, abusing liquor and drugs ... and useless, uneducated leaders. On the PR front we are total zero. No TV channel, no non-Punjabi newspaper or journal, no information about our religion, our viewpoint in any gurdwara. No discussion or lectures on such topics. Then we say why the general public does not understand our sentiments.

14: JeeJay (india), October 15, 2015, 10:56 AM.

Here's more that everyone in India should read ... and weep.

15: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 15, 2015, 11:16 PM.

@13: I agree. It is hard to understand why the Sikhs are unable to produce any honest and competent leaders. All of them without exception work against the interests of the community and make a joke of themselves everywhere they go. Years ago I observed with shock Simranjit Singh Mann who got elected as MP during the turbulent period of the 1980s. He was expected to raise Sikh issues in the parliament. Indian parliament allows ceremonial kirpans but not swords to be taken inside by amritdhari Sikhs. This guy was adamant about carrying a big sword in the parliament and was barred from entering. He created a big controversy about swords but the opportunity to raise Sikh grievances in the parliament was lost. This guy tries to remain in the limelight somehow by creating controversies but hasn't achieved anything meaningful till now.

16: Roop Dhillon (London, United Kingdom), October 16, 2015, 7:37 AM.

History repeats itself. Even though the rest of India is really a different pagan place now.

17: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), October 16, 2015, 9:24 AM.

Reading this article made me very sad. As a young boy what I experienced on October 31, 1984 in South Delhi left a deep impact that comes back in nightmares even today. Despite all this, we cannot discount the help some Hindus provided (however few they may be). It is very clear to me that present day Sikhs are like a body without a head. Most divided, socially confused, jealous of each other, some even caste-afflicted, lack of knowledge of their own history ... No strategic direction, those who rise up in the world almost always stay away from Sikhi. We need awakening, social media, loving interactions, community building, getting rid of casteism ... these should be our priorities. 'Panth challey es jagat mae jab tum hot sahai!'

18: Roop Dhillon (London, United Kingdom), October 16, 2015, 11:40 AM.

#17 -- I fully agree but who of the educated classes is strong and morally able to stand up? I just spoke to a British born and raised Gujarati brahmin, and guess what? He had no knowledge of Hindutva and the 'Saffron' terror being unleashed in India today. Totally news to him. So it seems that this is a particular crowd in India which is a minority. If all the of the one billion were part of RSS we would already be well into an Indian Nazi regime. Hopefully that won't happen. I think the big mistake was Punjab should not have let itself be divided back in 1947 and Maharaja Ranjit Singh's kids should not have allowed themselves to be duped (yes, the seeds were sown building up to the Anglo-Sikh wars). And if we had allowed the Brtish to make Punjab an independent country, not part of the new evil Indian empire, who knows, all Punjabis whatever their religion would be better off now. Anyhow that is now just a dream. I think in the long run India will have to break up into the various countries it was prior to Mughal/British rule. There is no other way.

19: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 20, 2015, 2:24 PM.

This article calls into question India's much trumpeted "secular" and "democratic" credentials. I think words like these and much more must have been used to lure Sikh leaders into joining India in 1947.In my opinion Sikhs should have negotiated a confederation-like structure with India with the right to have our own defence instead of a downright merger and should have walked away if this was not granted. This was how Texas joined the USA with the right to become independent at anytime. Did the Sikh "leaders" of those times ever study such mergers and evaluated the pros and cons before joining this lawless jungle? India is making desperate efforts to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Sikhs and other minorities should make a case with the UN -- Does a state which cannot provide security to its own people belonging to ethnic minorities deserve a permanent seat in the UNSC? India should be denied entry in the UNSC on the same grounds as Germany which was kept out due to the Jewish genocide. Justice for the 1984 Sikh Genocide should be the pre-condition to be considered for a UNSC membership, otherwise even Rwanda is eligible for a UNSC seat!

20: Kanwarjeet Singh (USA), October 20, 2015, 6:02 PM.

I have learnt that life pays you back with compound interest. Did not believe it till I started experiencing it myself. For India I have been waiting for 30 odd years for the right-wing Hindus to claw themselves into power. Why, you may ask? Because their 'karma' for the past 400 years is about to be fulfilled. Watch how they destroy themselves. It may mean killing off several thousand Sikhs but it will also mean civil war and destruction of this fake nation called India. Everything about it is as fake as it can get. Now that the wolves and jackals are in power, the beginning of the end has been initiated. Their own will be raped and murdered. As sad and negative as it may sound, it is inevitable.

21: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), October 20, 2015, 6:37 PM.

@19 - Kaala ji: I wouldn't use the example of Texas; it would actually be illegal for Texas to secede from the Union. Punjab should have got the same deal as Kashmir. As somebody who has studied international law at law school, I can tell you that the UN means squat.

22: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 21, 2015, 1:12 AM.

Adding to my post above: Turkey, which is a European country, has been repeatedly denied entry into the European Union because it committed the genocide of Christian Armenians. Having been repeatedly snubbed by EU, Turkey now seeks a fanatic Islamic identity by getting closer to Muslim countries of the Middle East and is witnessing increasing extremism within the country. Something similar is happening in India. Having been snubbed by EU, UN and other Christian and Muslim countries for human rights abuses of Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, it now seeks solace in Hindu extremism and vents its frustration by persecuting minorities. It is time the civilized world takes notice and makes it clear to countries like India that genocide of ethnic minorities won't pay just as they made it clear to Germany, Turkey and Serbia. The only way to get accepted in the world is through civilized and responsible behaviour.

23: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 27, 2015, 1:30 PM.

@21 - Sunny ji: The Maharaja of Kashmir was a Hindu Dogra, yet he negotiated a deal to safeguard his interest in J&K but the Sikh leaders did not. Is it so that everybody was smarter and better educated than the "agrarian" Sikh leaders like we see in Punjab today? Has anything changed from 1947 to 2015? We are still agitating for adulterated fertilizers!

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