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1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom 1984: Perspective & 25th Anniversary Wrap-Up (From SikhChic)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
1984: Perspective & 25th Anniversary Wrap-Up


This is the final, wrap-up piece in sikhchic.com's "1984 & I' series which was presented to you through the 12 months of 2009 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the crimes of Indira Gandhi, the Indian Government and its representatives in 1984.

The events of 1984 are etched in our bones. I won't dwell on them in
any detail.

To put them in perspective, in January 2009 sikhchic.com started a whole series of remembrances, personal anecdotes, experiences and reflections, opinions and analyses, even on how to move forward, by a variety of Sikhs and non-Sikhs.

But it became much more than that; readers across the globe posted 93 contributions over the year. The pieces covered the gamut - from what happened, the failure of India's governmental institutions, the lamentable state of justice and the absence of meaningful compensation and redress.

It is time to wrap up this phase at this time but not to end it. I am sure every June and November readers will continue to exhume and revisit the events of 1984, and that's as it should be. There are lessons in it that are not to be ignored.

For over half a millennium, the history of Punjab has been inseparably intertwined with that of Sikhs. One defines the other.

Twentieth century Punjab has witnessed, shaped and lived three momentous, even defining, times; their larger impact has redefined the nation that is India and its sense of self.

First was the reform movement in the 1920's that freed the gurdwaras from British control - a struggle in which many, many were martyred or spent time in jail. This titanic struggle shook the British Empire to its core, but remained a model of non-violence to the end. It taught a lesson or two on the meaning of non-violence even to Mahatma Gandhi who later became the apostle of such a model of resistance to tyranny. This influenced and shaped India's struggle for independence from the British.

For Sikhs, it also gave birth to the Singh Sabha Movement, the leader of reform in Sikh society, and the Shiromini Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that held promise of self governance.

The year 1947 saw the emergence of two free nations out of the subcontinent - India and Pakistan. But the birth wasn't painless. There was a massive transfer of populations across a line drawn in the sand that divided real people, families and communities. It created more refugees than in Europe after the Second World War. The numbers massacred during those days - estimated in millions - remain uncounted and undocumented even today, 60 years later.

Then there were the years of, what are euphemistically dubbed, the troubled days and decade of the 1980's in Punjab.

In the 1980's, as many astute observers of the scene have documented, mostly governmental intransigence transformed a manageable politico-economic dispute between Punjab and the Indian government into a virtual civil war that brought India to the brink of fragmentation.

Twenty-five years ago in June 1984, the Indian government launched a full scale army attack against the premier Sikh place of worship (The Golden Temple, Amritsar) and 40 other gurdwaras across Punjab. The date was the Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjan and all gurdwaras in India, particularly the Harmandar at Amritsar were teeming with devotees. Punjab was hermetically sealed by the government. Rumors abounded but no news filtered out on the number killed or maimed. In a dramatic feat of propaganda, Sikhs were painted as terrorists across the globe.

Those days of infamy have never been carefully and completely documented or explored.

The full article is at this link: