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1984 riots: Widows, orphans, addicts and pending trials

india Updated: Nov 01, 2014 17:31 IST
Hindustan Times

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots were one of the worst massacres that Independent India ever witnessed. Thousands of lives were lost and thousands others were thrown out of their houses.

Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the riots and a lot of people still haven't recovered from the losses they suffered then. Survivors recount the horror and mourn loss of their family members:

Mahinder Pal Kaur

We had been married for just five years. My husband had a spare parts business in Khajuri. That day when the news of Indira Gandhi dying spread, he had to shut shop early. We knew the situation was becoming more difficult with each passing minute but people in the neighbourhood assured us that we would remain safe.

Mahinder Kaur (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Our son was a three-year-old then and my mother-in-law stayed with us. For two days, we stayed holed up inside only hearing stories about houses being set on fire. A few people came home on the night of November 2 and cut my husband’s hair. They believed it would save him from those murderers. But that was not true.

At six next morning, a group of people barged into our house and dragged my husband out. They hit him on the head with iron rods in front of me. Soon the army arrived and my husband was taken to the hospital where he received 70 stitches. But he could not make it.

I don’t know who those men were. I had no strength to go after them. I had a child to bring up, all alone. I got a job in MCD in 1986. We managed somehow but it’s impossible to forget what happened that day. It was all arranged by the government. Why else did they fail to stop it?

Joginder Kaur

Had it not been for our Hindu neighbour in Nangloi, we all would have been dead today. He gave us space to hide in his house. When the mob banged on his door, he simply swore on his eight-year-old daughter insisting there was no Sikh in his house. The mob moved on but we were right there locked inside a room. My husband was not that lucky.. He was at home on the top floor with other men keeping an eye on the mob.

1984 riots victims Joginder Kaur and Trilok Singh (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

On November 2, a large group of hooligans entered the house. I have heard from others that my husband tried hard to save his life. He ran down into the back lane but they found him. He fought on but they soon overpowered him. The army had taken him to the hospital where he breathed his last. My children and I lived in Nanak Piao Gurudwara for a year. I got a job in a government school two years later but that was no justice.

(As told to Neha Pushkarna)

Jagdish Kaur

I saw my brothers Raghuvinder and Kuldeep Singh being attacked and taken away by the mob... I decided to visit the police post to lodge a report. I went along the Shiv Mandir Marg and took a turn to reach the police post. I saw two private cars stationed there. I also noticed a police jeep at that place.

Jagdish Kaur (Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

Someone told me that an MP had visited that place and that a meeting was going on. I nurtured a hope that I would seek help from the MP and that I would be able to cremate my husband, son and my brothers.

MP Sajjan Kumar came out of the meeting after about five minutes and while standing on a jeep he declared, “Not one Sikh should be spared. If a Hindu bhai tries to shelter them, burn their houses too… Kumar left thereafter. One police officer, carrying a microphone and sitting in the jeep applauded the crowd and drove ahead…”

(From her court testimony)

Watch: Remembering 1984 riots 30 years later