With no justice for the victims of the 1984 Sikh genocide in 28 years, the Sikh Forum organised a people’s court in New Delhi on 10th November 2012 at IIC Annexe. Eminent jurists and personalities constituted a panel of four judges, including Shri Kuldeep Nayyar, Adv. Ashok Arora, General Chaddha (Retd.) and the President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Shri S Raghavan. Senior advocate H S Phoolka conducted the prosecution.
Several victims deposed to the packed People’s court recounting the heart rending events when their near and dear ones were burned alive in front of their eyes. All of them pointed out to the organised nature of the killings with the police not being present, or even if present, doing nothing to protect the victims. In many cases, they were actually aiding the murderers. They said that the Congress leaders and activists were clearly seen to be inciting the mobs to attack on Sikhs. They lamented that none of the agencies of the state have really helped them to get justice or to assist them in returning back to a dignified life. One of the victims told the court that she and her mother were incarcerated in jail for years under the draconian TADA and tortured for daring to identify role of the leaders of Congress party in the massacre. She said that there was constant pressure and threats to forget 1984 genocide and give up fighting the case.
Advocate Phoolka pointed out that there was no provision in the law for forgiving murderers; that the victims only wanted that the law of the land be applied and the guilty be punished. He pointed out that this struggle for justice should be taken forward without letup and the youth have an important role to play in this. The judges pronounced the accused leaders of the Congress party and their collaborators including police officers, guilty of organising and abetting the genocide. They recommended that the court cases that were closed for lack of evidence, be reopened and the state ensure the safety of the witnesses to enable them to depose without fear or intimidation.
Shri Raghavan said that testimonies clearly show that the killing of the Sikhs in November 1984 was state organised with the ruling party directing the mob violence. He said that the experience shows that the major political parties and the Indian State were communal and not the people. He emphasized that the reason why the culprits have not been punished or even apprehended in last 28 years is that the government and the ruling establishment are protecting the guilty. This is being done under the Constitution and therefore there was also a need to look deeply into the Constitution to see how such a massacre could go unpunished for 28 years. He suggested that the Indian Constitution may need to be rewritten to ensure that human, national and democratic rights are protected and the people are empowered to take all decisions that affect their lives. He also pointed out that the democracy and secularism espoused by the ruling elite actually allow and enable the division of polity on communal lines.
Responding to the call from the organisers of the event to propose steps for speedy rehabilitation the victims and punishment to the guilty, many people in the audience made valuable suggestions and volunteered to contribute. It was pointed out in the interventions that the state keeps the people divided and what was needed to prevent such state organised massacres in the future was for people of all communities to come forward and unite against state organised genocide against any community.