Victims - Ray of Hope

MID DAY

 '1984 doesnt haunt us, but justice should be delivered'

By: Surender Sharma Date: 2010-02-19

Young Sikhs in Delhi who have lived the trauma of the anti-Sikh riots say they hold no grudges against anybody They have seen their loved ones being burnt alive by mobs, their shops and businesses razed to the ground, lived in the fear of getting killed any day, yet they have put it all behind them and want to look forward. File photo of survivors of 1984 riots demanding justice at a protest in New Delhi

The young Sikhs in the city, known for their entrepreneurial skills, are not haunted by the ghosts of 1984 anti-Sikh riots and do not hold grudges against individuals or any particular community. However, they are hopeful that since the wheels of justice have started turning the guilty would be brought to book. Ikjot Singh Bhasin was barely 10 when the riots started. The avid biker and entrepreneur recalled how he was returning to Delhi from Pakistan with his parents when policemen got onto their train near Amritsar and escorted them to Delhi under high security.

"We lived in Jangpura Extension in south Delhi, which was a Hindu-dominated area, but it was our neighbours who saved us. The rioters tried to burn our petrol pump in Jangpura but as it was in a residential area, they could not risk the lives of all those who were living there. So, we got saved," Bhasin recalled. Bhasin, 35, now owns five petrol pumps in the city.

"It happened at the spur of the moment. They didn't know what they were doing. I do not hold any grudge against Sajjan Kumar but I feel those guilty should be brought to book," he said. Gurmit Anand was 16 years old when Hindu mobs burnt down their small auto-component unit in Badli. His father was away and being the eldest male member in the family, Gurmit was under tremendous pressure to ensure protection of his family.

Their house in Model Town area was surrounded by a number of Hindu families and ultimately they had to take shelter in neighbours' homes for days. "More than 80 people used to work for us. We lost everything but fortunately none of us was harmed. We started from the scratch and today we employ more than 3,000 people ," Gurmit said. The 42-year-old businessman holds the dealership for Jaguar and Land Rover, apart from an auto component unit.

"If the government brings to book those accused of killing innocent Sikhs, it will be a great consolation for the community." Ranjit Singh, 45, however is a bit skeptical. "Sajjan Kumar is a powerful man. But those responsible should not be spared and must be brought to justice," said Singh, who runs a paint factory near Delhi. In 1984 they used to live in Pusa Road. "Since Pusa Road had a strong Sikh population, it was a potential target and I remember Hindu mobs doing the rounds of our area," said Singh. "Following the riots, we shifted to Ghaziabad and started our business from scratch. All's well now," he added.

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After 25 years, riot victims see ray of hope

Vaibhav Vats Posted online: Thursday , Feb 18, 2010 at 0113 hrs

New Delhi : While celebratory slogans resounded around him, 54-year-old Babu Singh Dukhiya stood quietly in a corner outside the Karkardooma courts. As news of non-bailable warrants against Sajjan Kumar spread, for Dukhiya, this was a private moment of redemption. Tears welling up in his eyes, he said, “I’ve spent most of my life fighting for this. Youth and middle age has passed me by, but it is better late than never.”

Dukhiya is one among the hundreds of Sikhs who moved to West Delhi’s Tilak Vihar following the massacre in Trilokpuri during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. Sattu Singh, the father of US-based Jasbir Singh, a key witness, hailed the order. “The judge has done so much for us,” he said. “After four to five years, he has revived the paperwork from the dustbins.” Singh also accused the Central Bureau of Investigation of being “hand in glove” with the accused. The CBI has repeatedly termed Jasbir Singh’s version of events false and concocted.

“All of them — Sajjan Kumar, the police — must be punished,” he said. “All accused persons have to be taken to task, no matter what religion they belong to.” Despite this moment of triumph, the determination to get justice remained undimmed for 40-year-old Pappi Kaur. “I was 15 when the riots took place,” she remembered.

“Earlier, my mother was fighting; now I have taken the fight forward. We will fight till we get justice.” Nirmal Kaur, 52, questioned the delay in arresting Kumar. “Why can he not be arrested immediately?” she asked. Seventy-five-year-old Mancha Singh lost three sons and a brother in the massacre in Trilokpuri, and later moved across the river to Tilak Vihar, with whatever was left of his family.

“After 25 years of darkness and pain, this is one ray of sunshine,” he said.