September 11, 2005

1984: Nanavati Report & Rape of Justice

Sarita
Peoples March

October 31st 1984: Indira Gandhi is assassinated for the crimes perpetrated on the Sikhs in Punjab and the military assault of the Golden Temple. On Nov. 1st all hell broke loose. In just two days over 3,000 innocent Sikhs were butchered in Delhi alone; thousands more in other parts of the country. Hundreds of women were raped and crores of property of the Sikh community looted.

Jassi Bai witnessed her son and husband being butchered before her very eyes. Harbans Kaur, at just the tender age of 18 saw her husband tied to a pillar and burnt alive. The stories of horror haunt the living with no action taken against the perpetrators of the genocide. Some even continued as ministers for a full ten years in the past 21 years after the holocaust. The police and administration were silent collaborators continue with their brutalities.

But the anti Sikh pogrom was not the only one in post-1947 India. In 1947 itself lakhs of Muslims and Hindus were killed in the British-planned partition of divide and rule. The riots were engineered from the very top of the political establishment. No action has ever been taken against the culprits. In 1971 thousands of Naxalites were butchered in Kolkota in a Congress-CPM conspiracy, and some of the chief perpetrators, like Priya Ranjandas Munshi, continue to be ministers in Congress governments. Yet again no action taken. Again in 1984 there was the anti-Sikh holocaust. And then there were the horrors of the Gujarat pogroms, where over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, hundreds raped and crores of property looted. Again no action was taken. In fact, in all cases it has been the victims themselves and their families who have had to face arrest, surveillance and continued harassment, besides horrifying impoverishment. In Gujarat even after the Congress govt has come to power over 130 Muslims continue to languish in jail under POTA, while the Sangh gangs remain untouched.

The Nanavati Report

The report is an eye-wash, and even the limited accusations have been dismissed by the Congress Action Taken Report (ATR), tabled in the Parliament. And only when there was an outburst by the Sikh community and fear of losing their power in Punjab and seats in many Sikh-dominated constituencies, did they make the killers Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar resign. That too, after making statements of their innocence.

The Nanavati Report concludes that the violence was "organised" and "involved the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons", but then goes on to stat that there is "absolutely no evidence" to show high-ranking Congress leaders were involved. Even on those well known to have instigated the pogrom the Nanavati Commission is vague, saying that they were "probably" involved. On the police that openly collaborated with the rioters the Report says merely that they were negligent and "probably" connived in the attacks. Even regarding the inaction of the army the Report is again vague..

Commissions of Co-option

Commissions are an effective tool of co-option of dissident intellectuals and drawing them into the establishment. Crores are spent of the individuals associated with them . The present Congress-CPM combine has perfected this art of co-option of ‘left’ intellectuals. Since May 005 the UPA government has created 50 commissions on any and every problem from improving the lot of dalits to water to saving tigers. NGOs play a major role in this. +And this list does not include the statutory committees. There are ministerial groups, committees, missions, and high-level groups. Most of these committees produce nothing or otherwise are made to produce ‘findings’ dictated by the finders — govt., World Bank, et al.

Taking advantage of all these "ifs" and "buts" in the report the Congress ATR took no action at all. But this very report was itself set up only in 2000 by the NDA government a full 16 years after the event. It has gone the way of all such reports which are just instituted to diffuse discontent or for political mileage of one or the other party — not to administer justice to the victims and their families.

Post-1984 Events in Retrospect

The main culprit for the entire massacre was the then Prime Minister himself, Rajiv Gandhi. It was he who master-minded the massacre, ordered the police and administration not to intervene and brought in the army after the worst was over. As India was still burning with the riots at a meeting on the birth anniversary of his mother on Nov.19, 1984 he said " when a mighty tree falls, the earth around is bound to shake". Again in an interview to the Sunday Magazine (March 16 1985) he justified the massacre saying that that "the violence was extensive only in those areas where Sikhs distributed sweets". He even opposed a judicial inquiry into the events. No wonder Sonia is totally silent and it was left to her stooge PM to shed crocodile tears, even though he himself is a Sikh.

A judicial inquiry was set up only in mid-1985, which only began functioning in 1986. Hearings were held in secret and none of the politicians against whom credible evidence existed (as detailedly outlined in the PUDR report "Who are the Guilty") were cross-examined. The Delhi police worked overtime to sabotage the few criminal cases they were forced to register. Attempts were made to shut down the relief camps and send the victims of the violence to their burnt-out homes within a week of the massacre. In one of the few cases all the 31 accused were acquitted in 1992.

Since 1984 there have been nine Commissions but zero justice. No action has been taken on the perpetrators of the crime, whether politicians, police or criminals; and little relief has been provided to the thousands of families destroyed.

How to Achieve Justice?

It is difficult in the prevailing system. The anti-Sikh pogroms clearly show that the politicians of any hue did not deliver justice, the administration did not, the courts did not, the numerous Commissions did not, nor did the very own Sikh party — the Akali Dal — which shared power at the Centre for numerous years. Then where can the victimized get justice?

It is rather difficult in the prevailing system. The overthrow of the entire system, lock-stock-and-barrel, is the only guarantee for the oppressed getting any justice. Meanwhile it is only the organised and revolutionary strength of the masses that can wrest justice through the use of its combined force. Let us not await justice for another 21 years, let us take the law into our own hands and meet out justice in people’s courts.

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