November 1, 2019, New Delhi
On November 1, activists belonging to several organisations gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and held a public meeting to mark the 35th anniversary of the genocide of Sikhs in 1984. The meeting was organised by Lok Raj Sangathan and many other organisations who have been waging a long and consistent battle to win justice for the victims of the genocide and to advocate legal and political measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
“Punish the guilty of 1984!”, “Unite against the politics of state organized communal violence and division!”, “An attack on one is an attack on all!” – these slogans inscribed on a huge banner summed up the sentiments of the participants. Banners and placards bearing slogans such as “Down with the politics of divide and rule!”, “Let us unite to put an end to state organized communal violence and state terror!”, “State terrorism, down, down!”, “People are not communal, Indian state is communal!”, etc. were prominently displayed in the hands of many of the participants as well as all around the venue.
The protest was jointly organised by Lok Raj Sangathan, Welfare Party of India, Communist Ghadar Party of India, Lok Paksh, United Muslim Front, Sarvahara Lok Paksh, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Citizens for Democracy, All India Catholic Union, New Democratic Party of India, Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Sikh Forum, CPI (M-L) – New Proletarian, All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (Delhi) and others.
Representatives of participating organisations put forward their views on the genocide and what needs to be done. Those who addressed the demonstration included S Raghavan, President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Sucharita and Birju Nayak of Lok Raj Sangathan, Comrade Prakash Rao of Communist Ghadar Party, Siraj Taalib of Welfare Party of India, Comrade KK Singh of Lok Paksh, Comrade Siddhantkar of CPI (M-L) – New Proletarian, Com Sidhant of Sarvahara Lokpaksh, Abdul Rashid of All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (Delhi), Adv. Arun Majhi of New Democratic Party of India, Maheswaran of Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi, Lokesh of Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha and others.
Speakers elaborated on how the genocide of 1984 was a meticulously planned state-organised crime and not a spontaneous outburst of “Hindus taking revenge against Sikhs”. It was planned several months in advance. There is overwhelming evidence that it was planned at the highest levels including the ruling party, the cabinet, security officials, and the bureaucracy. The entire state machinery was deployed to carry out the massacre as is evident from the reports of several Commissions appointed to investigate the genocide.
The genocide was a part of the overall “divide and rule” strategy of the ruling class. This strategy has been the preferred weapon in the hands of political parties and their governments to stabilize their rule and push through policies which are against the interests of people and benefit only the big corporate business houses. Countering the false propaganda of the rulers and their state and media, that people are communal, the speakers pointed out that it is the Indian state which is communal and organizes communal violence and massacres. The events of November 1984 showed how the state officials and security forces remained mute spectators to the massacres and even assisted the murderous goons. On the other hand, people bravely stood by the victims and rendered whatever help they could.
Speakers pointed out that in spite of immense pressure from the ruling establishment, we have never let people forget the horrendous crimes perpetrated on innocent people 35 years back, on the streets of Delhi and other places. In an atmosphere of growing hate crimes and state repression today on those who defend human rights, it is very important to boldly come out and condemn what is wrong. The slogan “Punish the guilty!” demands punishment first and foremost, for those in positions of command in the Indian state, the political parties of the establishment, ministers and high ranking officials who were responsible for organizing the genocide and did nothing to protect the victims. It is important for new generations born after 1984 to be told the truth so that such gruesome killings can be avoided in the future.
Speakers pointed out that it is not only the perpetrators of the genocide of 1984 who are yet to be punished. The criminals who organised the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992, the massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and numerous other communal massacres are also still roaming scot free. Attacks on minority communities have only increased since 1984. They have been the target of lynch mobs, encounter killings, and harassment and imprisonment under black laws such as UAPA. They are being targeted as “terrorists” and “anti-nationals”.
The fact that both Congress and BJP have been involved in these criminal acts was highlighted by many speakers. Both the parties have organised communal violence and terror against the people. In every election they use the caste and communal “card” to destroy the unity of people. Speakers pointed out that people cannot rely on these parties of the establishment to punish the guilty of communal massacres or to prevent such incidents in the future. We must boldly expose the crimes of the state and stand with the victims of state organized communal violence and state terror. We, the people, have to strengthen our unity, rising above differences of religion, caste or political affiliation, and build a powerful movement against the nefarious politics of “divide and rule” of the rulers, the speakers affirmed.
The participants in the meeting resolved to step up the struggle to punish the guilty of 1984, to strengthen the unity of our people and expose the machinations of all political forces who try to divide people on the basis of religion, caste, language or any other basis.