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1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom Tragic Sikh Slay Spree: Community Push To Bring Those Behind '84 Massacre To Justice


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
On Nov. 1, 1984, Daviderpal Bhatia barricaded himself with his family in his living room as gunshots came flying through the door and windows.
The South Ozone Park man is a Sikh, and at the time was living in his native India. In three deadly days that November, 30,000 Sikhs in India were killed as part of what many Sikhs hope the international community will recognize as a genocide.

"I watched my brother get shot in the head, and my grandfather get shot in the chest," said Bhatia, 49, who immigrated to the U.S. the following year.

"We had to pretend my sister was dead and placed her between the bodies so they would not rape her."

Bhatia recounted the tragedy as two high-ranking Sikh priests arrived in Queens to speak to the Sikh community about the massacre.

Giani Gurbachan Singh and Giani Iqbal Singh spoke to 500 Sikhs from the tristate area yesterday, imploring them to share their stories and push the international community to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to justice.

Queens County is the home to the second-largest Sikh community in the U.S. - second only to California as a whole.

Their visit was arranged by the nonprofit group Sikhs for Justice. The organization has filed inquiries in a number of U.S. and Canadian courts asking the governments to review the facts of those fateful days in India and classify what happened a genocide.

"I am issuing a directive to Sikhs to stand together and help victims and survivors of this tragedy," Giani Gurbachan Singh said through a translator.
"We ask that any survivor give their story to Sikhs for Justice so they may take the appropriate legal actions."

This is the first time the priests have come to New York to speak specifically about the massacre.

"We asked them to come here because the rest of the Sikh community needs to be involved in this in order for us to accomplish our mission," said Gurpatwant Pannun, the founder of Sikhs for Justice.

"There is so much pain in the community, as the men who committed these acts are still walking free."

Pannun said the evidence is overwhelming that the attacks were planned and that Sikhs were specifically targeted by the state. More than 100 Sikh temples were burned, he said.

"The hope is that this issue will eventually reach the UN and they will come to a resolution," Pannun said.



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