Disclaimer: This is not intended against any religion, caste or community. The story is purely based on fictional characters. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, maybe purely coincidental. The facts mentioned after the story are based on Wikipedia search.
She’s hiding behind the curtains of her room and watching the mob from there, her little brother Angad clung by her side. He’s not aware of what’s going outside but he does know that something is wrong because he can sense the fear in his sister’s eyes. Angad is 8 years old and his sister Bani is 13. They belong to a Sikh family. They live with their parents and grandparents. But maybe not their grandfather anymore, because they don’t know where he is or if he’s alive or not. Their grandfather went out to get them some supplies because they were running short of food and water. They had been hiding in their neighbor’s home, a Hindu family who were trying to help save their lives. It had been 2 days since their grandfather left. There was no news of him. They could not risk going out in search of him, their own lives were in danger. Their food supplies were almost over. After all they were 2 families living in one house. Soon they would have nothing to eat. They had to make a choice, either to starve till death or go outside to fetch some food but it was a huge risk. Their was a third risk, the mob could find them hiding in their neighbors house and even their neighbors could get killed because they were sheltering them, a Sikh family.
Every moment they were living in the fear of death. Death is inevitable but not when you are being targeted to be slaughtered. That is not a normal death, it is a worse form of murder. To them fear of death seemed more like an abyss, it was never ending. More than that they were scared of how they would be killed. Last night the entire family had witnessed the mob kill a middle aged Sikh man. They were punching and kicking him on his face, in his stomach, beating him with sticks and stones and whatever they could find. He was bleeding profusely. He was crying, shouting for help. But no one came for help, not even the ones who were watching from behind the curtains of their windows, for even their lives were in danger. He begged them to take whatever money he had and let him go. But the mob didn’t want his money. They wanted his life. When they got tired of beating him and hearing his pleas, they put a tyre around his neck, poured gasoline over it and set it on fire. The man was screaming, begging for his life but the mob had now turned into spectators. They were watching him burn. The street was filled with his screams. But no one, not even a single soul came to his help, for everyone was trying to save themselves. And this whole scene happened in front of the police station. Well, perhaps even the police were trying to save themselves.
The word on the streets was that a lot of Hindu families in their neighborhood were also involved in killing Sikhs. But this Sikh family was being sheltered by their neighbors who were Hindus, even when they knew they could get slayed for helping a Sikh family. For them, this mob had no religion, not even humanity. For this family, the mob was nothing more than a soulless monster.
It was the third day, since the anti Sikh riots had started. They had seen more deaths in these three days than they had in their entire life. And these were not normal deaths, these were mass killings, brutal murders. Now, there was nothing left to eat and only a few bottles of water were left. They could not use the water from the storage tanks because they were filled with dead bodies of men, women and children.
Angad asked his father,” Where is grandpa? Did those men on the streets kill him? Will he ever come back home?”. He kept asking questions about his grandfather and whether he would get them something to eat but his father was incapable of answering his questions. His father didn’t know what to feel. Whether to be scared for their lives or mourn the possible death of his father. It was a mix of emotions, of fear and sorrow. They were all lost in their own thoughts. Were they going to starve to death? Or would they be slaughtered by the mob? To them starvation was a better choice than being brutally slayed by the mob.
“Why isn’t the police or the government doing anything? Why isn’t anyone trying to stop this? Will no one come to our rescue?”, Bani was constantly questioning her mother.
Their house had been raided by the mob many a times and even their neighbor’s, the one’s they were staying with. They had successfully managed to hide themselves from the mob till now.
” Maybe we should cut our hair short and I will shave my beard. This way the mob would perceive us as Hindus and not Sikh and we would not get killed.”, Bani’s father suggested. But maybe it was too late. Because now the mob was outside their door. Men were shouting outside their house and banging on their door. The whole family was clinging together. The banging on the door didn’t last very long. Now, they were inside the house. The screams of their parents and the monstrous face of the mob was the last thing Bani and Angad saw.
It was the year 1984, the year that never got justice, the ghosts of which still haunt the Punjab, the whole of India. A year no Sikh can ever forget.
P.S.: The Facts sourced from Wikipedia:
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots or the 1984 Sikh Massacre or the 1984 genocide of Sikhs was a series of pogroms directed against Sikhs in India, by anti-Sikh mobs, most notably by members of the Congress party, in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Official Indian government reports admit to about 2800 deaths across India, including 2100 in Delhi. Other independent sources estimate the number of deaths to be around 8,000, including at least 3,000 in Delhi. The Central Bureau of Investigation, the main Indian investigating agency, believes the acts of violence were organised with the support from the then Delhi police and some central government officials. Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister after his mother’s death and, when asked about the riots, said “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.
The sporadic violence continued as a result of an armed Sikh separatist group which was designated as a terrorist entity by the Indian government. In June 1984, during Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack the Golden Temple and eliminate any insurgents, as it had been occupied by Sikh separatists who were allegedly stockpiling weapons. Later operations by Indian paramilitary forces were initiated to clear the separatists from the countryside of Punjab state.
The violence in Delhi was triggered by the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India’s prime minister, on 31 October 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards in response to her actions authorizing the military operation. The Indian government reported 2,700 deaths in the ensuing chaos. In the aftermath of the riots, the Indian government reported 20,000 had fled the city, however the People’s Union for Civil Liberties reported “at least” 1,000 displaced persons. The most affected regions were the Sikh neighborhoods in Delhi. Human rights organisations and newspapers across India believe the massacre was organised. The collusion of political officials in the massacres and the judiciary’s failure to penalise the killers alienated normal Sikhs and increased support for the Khalistan movement. The Akal Takht, the governing religious body of Sikhism, considers the killings to be a genocide.