too sluggish

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Nov 2018 12:33:52

THE very fact that a delegation of eminent citizens finally met President Mr. Ram Nath Kovind requesting him to ask the honourable Supreme Court to notify at the earliest the appointment of the third member of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) formed to monitor the probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases, demonstrates how sluggish the whole process of the probe has been. In the past 34 years since the riots that claimed lives of thousands of Sikh persons following the most unfortunate assassination of the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the probe into the violent aftermath has continued at a terribly slow pace, as if there is no serious intention of completing it and handing down punishment to the guilty. That was the reason why a few eminent citizens including former Army Chief General J. J. Sigh felt compelled to approach the highest authority in the land, the honourable President. ‘Most unfortunate’, is the only reaction we can offer to this. For, those at the helm through these 34 years did not seem to have felt a sense of urgency. 

If this is the condition of an enquiry into the gory happening with an idea of vendetta by goons brazenly brandishing political patronage, then what could be happening to other probes, is something better left to the imagination of common people.

Those horrible moments will always remain etched in Indian memory. It was a fateful morning in India’s contemporary history when Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi opted as usual to walk from the residence part of her estate to the office section. As she approached the wicket gate that separated the two sections, two of her Sikh guards rained bullets into her frail body. Despite the best of efforts, Mrs. Gandhi passed away, riddled by as many as 27 bullets.

When the nation was yet to grapple with the whole impact of the catastrophic assassination of one of the most popular leaders in the world, goons with political patronage descended on Delhi and unleashed terror and horror on Sikh people, dragging them out of homes and cars, hacking them to death, burning them alive. And Delhi alone was not the targeted city; many other places across the country faced similar violence of the wanton kind. Nobody was left with any doubt about the organised crime unleashed by the political goons.

Such a major and organised riot claiming thousands of lives of one community would have got a very quick and no-nonsense response in any other country, but not in India. Every possible Government of the country since then has promised a thorough investigation into the riots and cases in this regard. Some persons -- with much political significance -- were dragged to courts and subjected to a serious legal scrutiny about their involvement in the anti-Sikh riots. Some were punished and some left free. Yet, the issue has not died down since the probe has not been completed as yet.

That is the pain in the minds of the people. Why? Why should there be such a protracted process across three decades and more? -- the people wonder in agony. That is the reason why those few eminent citizens called on President Mr. Ram Nath Kovind, urging him to push the Supreme Court to notify the appointment of the third member of the SIT that would supervise the overall probe.

No matter the political justification some elements might have tried to offer way back in 1984 for the retaliatory nature of the riots, the larger Indian society never accepted such a kind of mass vendetta. The nation had experienced similar outbreak of violence against Brahmins following the unfortunate assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The question that still haunts the nation is whether such an organised and violent response goes well with a refined civilisation.

This haunting question erupts in the popular mind as regards the anti-Sikh riots as well. The eminent citizens who went to Mr. Kovind with the request to speed up things represent the common Indian people as well, no matter their respective eminences. Countless historical inferences could be drawn from the anti-Sikh riots on 1984 or the anti-Brahmin riots of 1948. Some brazen political elements may come up with some strange justifications of the mass violence. No matter all that, none of those arguments would ever stick and the common people would always repudiate those sections that supported that violence at any point of time. For, when such violence takes place, it only blackens the face of the larger society, and also makes people feel sorry for themselves. No civlisation with fine values can ever tolerate this.

Fine values!
Yes, that is the crux of the issue. When a larger society is made to sacrifice fine values, when political considerations threaten to outdo sane thought, the issue of fine values comes up with a resoluteness that haunts the nation. The issue of anti-Sikh riots is one such issue. Why? Why should the authorities at any level delay the investigations into a dark moment of contemporary history without any understandable reasons? Why should any subsequent action or actions by any agency take 34 years, thereby denying justice, or unravelling the dirty truth?

To the politically-minded, these questions may feel as if being asked out of naivete. But to those who wish to be part of a fine process of nation-building, these questions assume a great importance. In fact, the probe into the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 should have been over within just a few months at the most. But 34 years have elapsed and the whole issue is still on the back-burner, and that is one condition not acceptable to anybody with no vested interests or no political tentacles to care for.

We have often pushed this point all along. Even in the immediate aftermath of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination, we had insisted upon the Sikh community to understand the ugly turn of history. Now we repeat the appeal to the authorities -- in the best national interest.