The lives of the families who lost their near ones and survived themselves on the 1984 Sikh pogroms in Delhi. 1984 is not just the name of the Orwell’s dystopian novel but a real year with carnage of Sikh people that would recall in the history to come.
1984 saw the worst pogroms against the Sikhs after Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh body guards on the morning of 31st October. The next day Delhi and rest of India saw the bloodiest killing of Sikhs. Estimated 8000 Sikh were killed pan India with 3000 alone in Delhi. After such carnage, Rajiv Gandhi (son of PM Indira Gandhi and the next Indian PM) commented Rajiv Gandhi justifying the 1984 Sikh Riots after Indira Gandhi's death by saying, "When a big tree falls, earth shakes."
34 years have passed. Judgement(s) delayed, and the perpetrators still roaming freely. Accused politicians like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and many unnamed people are leading a free life. Many children who lost their fathers have grown up to be men and women in their thirties and forties with their children still hearing the gruesome stories of the violent massacre that shook India.
My images are a slice of those people who say the arson happening in front of their eyes when their husbands and family members were burnt to death. Tyres were used like rings were used to captive the hands and fire was lit using petrol and other chemicals. In Delhi there were 587 FiR’s (first information report) were filed among with 247 were ‘untraced’ as the police claimed there were lack of evidence. 33 years passed, but the pain and tears among the family members who saw such violence hasn’t seized. The agony and pain still looks fresh. My images takes a look at the families who suffered with no faults of theirs.
Here are the voices heard from the widows and few men who lost a lot during the three day carnage.
In February 2015, the central Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), acting on the recommendations of the G P Mathur committee, constituted a three-member special investigation team, comprising of two senior police officers and a retired judge. The SIT’s terms of reference included reinvestigating criminal cases filed in Delhi in relation to the 1984 Sikh massacre, and filing charges against accused persons where there was sufficient available evidence. The Amnesty International a human rights advocacy group got together the names of the victims still alive and struggling the days with the thought of carnage in their minds.
The SIT was given six months to complete this exercise. However, working of the SIT is marked with non-transparency and with baffling delays. For over two years, the SIT has been seeking extensions. SIT has filed closure for more than 190 cases, out of a total of the 293 cases referred to the SIT on the anti-Sikh violence.