I recently watched this very moving film, Amu, which is based on the 1984 riots in Delhi, India. The movie is available for free on YouTube. Here's the link. I strongly recommend each one of you to find time for this 1 hr 45 minute eye-opener so that we realize the atrocities and the inhumanity that our current generations of people are capable of. It is a very simple tale but the stark reality of the events slaps you so hard in your face that you wish you didn't belong to these times.
My belief that genocides and pogroms ended with the closing chapters of the history books on World War II was shattered when the Godhra riots happened in Gujarat in 2002. I was too young to make any sense of the Babri Masjid violence in 1992. The incident did come up every now and then on the mainstream media, and hence, I have some knowledge on the issue.
However, I am ashamed to admit that being a Delhi-ite, in Delhi for so many years, I had absolutely negligible information on the anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of the then prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. All that was ever discussed, told, was that she was assassinated by her own body guards who were Sikhs, and then there was some obvious back lash. The extent of the brutality and political support with which this "obvious" backlash was carried out has escaped history books, and almost all other kinds of media and even journalism.
After watching the movie, I tried to dig up more information and was astonished to find out that politicians had openly - on the streets and on national TV - instigated and encouraged the genocide. Apparently, no cases were filed in police stations, a few that reached courts were never judged, and those three days of macabre have been blacked out from the consciousness of most Delhi-ites. Nobody talks about it. I read some of the most disturbing accounts where whole families of Sikhs were uprooted. I also went back to history to read about the separatist movements in the Sikh community and the ongoing tension during the time. However, nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify state sponsored violence.
I spoke to my parents about this. We all were in Delhi at that time. I was all of 1! Mom and dad tell me that there was fear among everyone, not just Sikhs alone. Mob violence is blind - it spares no one. Only a couple of hours later, when they saw truck loads of Sikh families being dropped off at the nearby gurudwaras, did they realize that it was the Sikh community that was being singled out and targeted. They told me how everyone knew it was state sponsored, voters' lists were circulated, kerosene provided from state pumps and how mobs used to come back for Sikh families hiding with the neighbors. This all went on for three long days. Mom tells me how all the neighborhood women used to prepare food to smuggle to the gurudwara without being noticed; and the men in the society guard the gates all through the night to ensure none of the Sikh neighbors were hurt. She said they often used to wonder if neighbors are helping and strangers are feeding, then who are these people who are killing?
This particular movie was never allowed to be released in India - we all know why. For those very reasons, apparently, no reasonable literature exists on 1984. Talk about democracy, freedom of expression, and then brushing "history" under the carpet. Since no such chapter exists in history, we will never learn from it. That is my greatest fear.
[Image source: Google Images]