1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom: The Need for Justice

The 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom (pre-planned killings) is both a dark blot on India’s history and a departure from the otherwise long history of pluralism in India and Hindu-Sikh cooperation that dates back to the time of Guru Nanak.

The killings were not the result of any Hindu-Sikh conflict, but rather were the horrific outcome of a political separatist movement led by fringe elements amongst Sikhs living in Punjab and spurred on by Pakistani intelligence services coming to heads with the actions of the ruling Congress Party and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi — who was ultimately assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

Regardless of the circumstances at the time, the mob killings of innocent Sikhs in 1984 were entirely unjustifiable and deplorable.

It is reprehensible that it has taken more than three decades to deliver a modicum of justice for the victims and their families. Since 2014, under the Bharatiya Janata Party government, there have been several positive steps towards delivering justice, including the following:

  • October 2014 — The government announcing an additional compensation of five lakh rupees ($7,200) each to the next of kin of victims
  • February 2015 — A special probe and commission being established to bring justice for the victims and their families. The special commission re-opened at least 75 cases.
  • February 2018 — 10 crore rupees ($143,500) being allocated in the national budget to provide additional compensation to victims’ families
  • November 2018 — Conviction and sentencing of two men, Yashpal Singh and Naresh Sherawat, to death and life in prison respectively on charges of murder and rioting
  • December 2018 — The sentencing of Indian National Congress party leader, Sajjan Kumar, along with three others, Captain Bhagmal Singh, Girdhari Lal, and former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, to life in prison, and Kishan Khokkar and former member of the legislative assembly Mahender Yadav to 10 years in prison.

Recommendations

The Hindu American Foundation urges the Government of India to:

  • Continue conducting investigations and prosecuting cases involving any and all individuals responsible for planning, participating in, or failing to stop the killings of Sikh civilians during the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom.
  • Continue to provide monetary assistance to the families of the victims and any other support as needed.

HAF stand ready to work with any organizations, individuals, or government institutions to support the quest for justice.

Statements

Victims of 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom Receive Some Long Awaited Justice in Conviction of Sajjan Kumar
Hindu Americans Praise Indian Court for Taking Positive Step Towards Justice for the Victims of the 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom

Related: Land of the Pure, The Khalistan Movement in India