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Was Jarnail Singh right?

Should Jarnail Singh really be vilified for what he did, considering all he had been through in the anti Sikh riots?

india Updated: Apr 08, 2009 09:55 IST
Liz Mathew

As me and my friend were excitedly discussing ‘Bushing' on P. Chidambaram by a fellow journalist at the Congress headquarters, a passer-by became curious and wanted a detailed report from us - I was right at the second row watching Jarnail Singh throw the shoe at the home minister. We being good reporters explained the scene minute by minute to him. Suddenly he asked: "Do you think he did the right thing?" We both looked at each other. He did not ask us before throwing the shoes," my friend snapped, may be sensing the danger in giving an answer. But I wanted to be courteous. "Well, he may be thinking he is right. We do not know what made him do that," I said. The questioner was obviously not satisfied, but he walked off.

Was Jarnail Singh right? How could a person like him -I have always known him to be very quiet-do that? What shocked me more were the reactions of some journalists. "We apologize for what happened!" one journalist told Chidambaram. "All the journalists here were upset and shocked" said a television journalist in his live reporting from the Congress headquarters. But I was not apologetic nor was I upset. "How could they speak on behalf of all the other journalists," I asked my friend, who also said she did not share those feelings. Are journalists not supposed to be above caste, creed, religion?" asked a senior journalist. Of course they are. But are they? Do they not take sides when they cover political party beats? Do they not give any favoritism while writing about their favorite ministers or politician? I felt like quoting the Bible-"He who is without sin among you, let him cast the stone." But I did not!

Later, while discussing the Tuesday's hot topic -the shoe-hurling at Congress headquarters had overshadowed Monday's Guwahatti blasts that killed at least 15 people on television channels - I got some more points (just hearsay, no confirmation). Jarnail Singh's family was also a victim of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. "He was one of those children who had to braid his hair to escape the Congress hooligans that time," said one of his friends. "I wont blame him because I am a person who had witnessed the gory scenes of anti-Sikh riots," said another journalist. May be she is right. You never know how frustrated Jarnail Singh was at the CBI's clean chit to Jagdish Tytler, named as one of the Congress leaders, who instigated the riot in Delhi after late prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination. More than 3000 people, including 2000 in the national capital alone, were killed in the riots that targeted the Sikh community. May be that is why Singh asked Chidambaram in the press conference: "Don't you know hundreds of Sikh hearts are bleeding over it. We have been waiting for 25 years for justice?"

Chidambaram obviously was not aware of what was coming after that question!