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1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom Even Today Shanti Kaur Hears The Cries Of Her Burning Father And Brother


Jun 1, 2004
She was living in Block 32 of Trilokpuri with her father Kirpal Singh and brother Modu Singh when the mob burnt 500 men alive as the police stood by. At the time Shanti Kaur was 17 but she could not understand why the mob was bent on killing them.

In front of her eyes her father Kirpal Singh and brother Modu Singh were tied to a charpoy. First their long hair was cut off and then they were set alight as casually as the burning of Ravana's effigy on Dussehra day. Even today Shanti Kaur hears the cries of her burning father and brother.

She had just turned 18 when relatives married her off to Puran Singh. Puran Singh's father had been hacked to death by the mob in Sultanpuri. Even Puran Singh had been slashed with swords and knives and left for dead. He used to earn a living by selling vegetables, but it seemed then that her life was coming together again.

During this period they had three children -- Sohan Singh, Rajni and Gurbachan Singh. However Puran Singh's health was deteriorating. He was becoming weaker day by day and he talked of pain in the neck where he had been slashed by a knife. They did not have enough money for treatment at a good hospital though Shanti Kaur suggested a number of times that he should see a doctor at a good hospital. At this he would say, 'When we have a bit more money then we shall see.' But that day never came.

When he was diagnosed with throat cancer they found that the treatment would cost lakhs. Where could they have got so much money from? Shanti Kaur was helpless. He expired within a month in front of their eyes.

Shanti Kaur did not give up and started working in homes to bring up her children. Since she was not educated her options were very limited. When she started going to work, people engaged in the drug trade pushed Sohan Singh towards the drug habit. He would remain sad and tired all the time.

When Shanti Kaur would ask, 'Son, what has happened?' he wouldn't reply. When she probed his friends, their reply shocked her. Sohan was addicted to smack. When he couldn't get it he would become frantic, thrashing about as if he was going to die. His breathing would slow down, his throat would dry up and his legs would hurt so much that he could not stand. Shanti did not know what to do.

The 15-year-old son would understand his mother's pain and ask her to poison and kill him. But how could she do that? Then he would cry for her to save him. She took him to the gurdwara many times and made him swear that he would not take drugs but when he would have the craving, he would forget everything else.

Image: A file picture of a victim with a photograph of relatives lost in the 1984 riots.


  • shanti kaur 1984.jpg
    shanti kaur 1984.jpg
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