Who Are the Guilty

Report of a joint inquiry into the causes and impact of the riots in Delhi from 31 October to 10 November 1984


A fact-finding team jointly by the People’s Union after Democratic Rights (PUDR) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in the course of investigations from November 1 to November 10, has come to the conclusion that the attacks on members of the Sikh Community in Delhi and its suburbs during the period, far from being a spontaneous expression of “madness” and of popular “grief and anger” at Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination as made out to be by the authorities, were the outcome of a well-organised plan marked by acts of both deliberate commissions and omissions by important politicians of the Congress (I) at the top and boy authorities in the administration. Although there was indeed popular shock, grief and anger, the violence that followed was the handiwork of a determined group which was inspired by different sentiments altogether.

Experiences of individual members of the term as well as their extensive interviews with the (I) victims of the riots; (ii) police officers who were expected to suppress the riots; (iii) neighbours of the victims who tried to protect them; (iv) army personnel; and (v) political leaders, suggest that the attacks on the Sikkha followed a common pattern, whether they took place in Munirka in the south, or Mangolpuri in the West, or Trilokpuri in the East. The uniformity in the sequence of events at every spot in such far-flung places proves beyond doubt that the attacks were master-minded by some powerful organised groups. As a senior army officer deployed in Delhi during the recent riots said: “This arson is the work of an expert”. Newspaper reports suggest that this pattern is similar in all Congress (I) ruled states.

There was also a definite pattern discernible in the choice of the victims made by the assailants. According to the 1971 census figures Sikh males in the age group 20-50 number approximately, 100,000. The Sikhs who were killed in the recent riots largely belonged to this age group. The official estimate of only 325 killed (including 46 Hindus) till November 7 (HINDUSTAN TIMES, November 11) sound ridiculously low compared to the magnitude of arson, lynching and burning alive of people in the resettlement colonies alone. On the basis of information gathered from various sources, including eye-witnesses, survivors and relatives of the dead, the team estimates that the number of those killed of more than a thousand.

From our talks with the victims and their neighbours in almost every riot hit spot, we could reconstruct the sequence of events, which followed a stereotyped pattern everywhere. The first phase was marked by the floating of a set of rumours on the evening of October 31, following the announcement of Mrs. Gandhi’s death. The rumours were three. First, Sikhs were distributing sweets and lighting lamps to celebrate Mrs. Gandhi’s death. (Later during our investigations when we asked the residents of the effected localities whether anyone from among them had actually seen such things, almost everyone admitted that they had not personally witnessed it, but had heard from someone else. We did however come across a few people who while expressing revulsion at the incidents of assaults on the Sikhs, added that they had seen in some places some Sikha expressing their glee at Mrs. Gandhi’s death by demonstrative gestures. We have report is that some isolated groups of non Sikhs also exhibited similar behaviour. From the information that we have gathered from various sources, our impression is that such cases were few and isolated). The second rumour was that train-loads of hundreds of Hindu dead bodies had arrived at Old Delhi Station From Punjab. Third, water was poisoned by the Sikhs. As for the two latter rumours, we came across evidence of policemen in vans touring certain localities and announcing through loudspeakers the arrival of the train and the poisoning of water. In certain areas, we heard that police officials had rung up residents advising them not to drink water. These rumours (the last two were officially repudiated later) contributed to the shaping of a public mind that acquiesced in the attacks and murders that took place soon after.

The second phase began with the arrival of groups of armed young people in tempo-vans, scooters, motorcycles or trucks from the night of October 31 and morning of November 1 at various places like Munirka, Saket, South Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Bhogal, Jangpura and Asharm in the south and south-east; the Connaught Circus shopping area in the centre and later the trans – Jamuna colonies and resettlement colonies in other areas in the north. With cans of petrol they went round the localities and systematically set fire to Sikh houses, shops and gurudwaras. We were told by the local eye-witnesses in all the areas we visited, that well known Congress (I) leaders and workers (their names are to found in Annexure –I) led and directed the arsonists and the local cadres of the Congress (I) identified the Sikh houses and shops. A senior police official who for understandable reasons does not want to be named, pointed out: “The shop signs are either in Hindi or English. How do you expect the illiterate arsonists to know whether these shops belongs to Hindus or Sikhs, unless they were identified to them by some one, who is either educated or a local person ?” In some areas, like Trilokpuri, Manglopuri and the trans – Jamuna colonies, the arsonists consisted to Gujjar or Jat farmers from neighbouring villages, and were accompanied by local residents, some of whom again were Congress (I) activities. In these areas, we were told, Congress (I) followers of the Bhangi caste (belonging to the scheduled caste community) took part in the looting. In South Delhi, buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) were used by the miscreants to move from place to place in their murderous journey. How could the DTC allow its buses to be used by criminals ?

The attacks in the resettlement colonies (e.g. Trilokpuri in the trans-Jamuna area and mangolpuri in the west, where the maximum number of murders took place, again displayed in same pattern. The targets were primarily young Sikihs. They were dragged out, beaten up and then burnt alive. While old men, women and children were generally allowed to escape, their houses were set on fire after looting of valuables. Documents pertaining to their legal possession of the houses were also burnt. In some areas of Mangolpuri we heard from the survivors that even children were not spared. We also came across reports of gang-rape of women. The orgy of destruction embraced a variety of property ranging from shops. factories, houses to gurudwaras and schools belonging to the Sikhs. In all the effected spots, a calculated attempt to terrorize the people was evident in the common tendency among the assailants to burn alive the Sikhs on public roads. Even five days after the incidents, on November 6, in the course of one of our regular visits to Mangolpuri we found that although the ashes had been cleared, the payment in front of the Congress (I) office was still blotched with burnt patches, which the local people had earlier pointed out to us as spots where four Sikhs were burnt alive.


All through the period from October 31 to November 4, the height of the riots the police all over the city uniformly betrayed a common behavioral pattern, marked by (i) total absence from the scene; or (ii) a role of passive spectators; or (iii) direct participation or abetment in the orgy of violence against the Sikhs. On November 1, when we toured the Lajpat Nagar area we found the police conspicuous by their absence while Sikh’s shops were being set on fire and looted. Young people armed with swords, daggers, spears, steel trishuls, and iron rods were ruling the roads. The only sign of police presence was a police jeep, which obstructed a peace procession brought out by a few concerned citizens (who later organised themselves into the Nagarik Ekta Manch) on the evening of November 1. When the procession was on its way to the Lajpat Nagar main market, a police inspector from the van stopped the procession, warned it not to proceed reminding its numbers that the city was under curfew and Section 144. When leaders of the procession wanted to know from the police inspector why the arsonists are rioters were not being dispersed if curfew was on, the gave on reply and warned instead that the processionists could go to the Lajpat Nagar marked at their own risk. At the Lajpat Nagar market, leaders of the procession sought to pacify the mob by pointing out that innocent Sikhs were not responsible for Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination and should be protected from the attacks. They raised the slogan: “Hindu-Sikh bhai bhai.” As the crowed began to listen to the speeches made by the procession leaders, organised attempts were made by certain groups from among them to shout down the speakers by raising the slogan: “Indra Gandhi Zindabad: “Hindu Hindu bhai bhai”. It is significant that wherever we went, we did not find any sign of mourning or grief on the faces of those who were participating in the looting and burning. Attempts to pacify them by the peace marchers were met with derisive Laughter. Listening to their raucous exultation and looking at their gleeful faces, one would have though it was a festival, but for the arson and loot that was going on.

In the resettlement colonies, the police came out from their passive role and directly participated in the violence against the Sikhs. We were told by survivors that at the first signs of tension those who felt threatened personally went to the nearby police stations to seek their intervention. But the police did not respond. In Trilokpuri, the police reportedly accompanied the arsonists and provided them with diesel from their jeeps. The Station House Officer (SHO) of Kalyanpuri police station under which Trilokpuri fails, withdrew the constables who were on duty there when Sikh girls were being raped. Much later, the higher authorities took action against the SHO and his tow colleagues by suspending and arresting them for a criminal negligence of duties. In Sultanpuri, the SHO, one Bhatti, is alleged to have killed two Sikhs and helped the mob in disarming those Sikhs who tried to resist the mob.

Several resident a of Loni Road in the trans-Jamuna area, who were campling at Shakarpur when we interviewed them on November 7, told us that the police announced on loudspeakers two or three times at night on November 1, that they would not be responsible for the safety of the Sikhs and that the latter must look after themselves. One woman from the same area said she had seen a police Jeep full of men and that the stoning of Sikh shops was conducted from the jeep.

Another resident from the same road said that the police had incited the looting of a watch shop before it was burnt.

In Kotla Mulbarakpur, a domestic worker told our team members that the police had encouraged the looting- Later, they were reported to have said to the looters; “We gave you 36 hours. Had we given the Sikhs that amount of time, they would have killed every Hindu “.

In the Kingsway Camp, residents claimed that seventy percent of the loot was to be found in the police lines, suggesting that the police took a leading role in the plundering.

When after the destruction and murders, people went to complain and file FIR’S, the police in many areas refused to record their complaints, according to information gathered from the Hindi neighbours of the victims. A respected Sikh professional whose house was burned on 1st November was not able to register an F.I.R. despite all efforts. In Mangolpuri we were told, a police officer asked the Hindu complainants why they were protecting Sikhs and advised them to look after the safety of Hindu. Typical was the experience of Dharam Raj Pawar and Rajvir Pawar – two residents of Ber Saral – who on November I, went to the Sector IV R. K. Puram police station to ask for protection of a Sikh family (which till then was being sheltered by Hindu neighbours from impending attacks by a mob-led by a Congress-I man, Jagdiah Tokas). The officer in charge of the police station reportedly told them that he could not offer any help. Two constables later said to them;

“You being Jats should have killed those Sikhs. What are you doing here? Don’t you know a train has -arrived foom Punjab carrying bodies of massacred Hindus?”

A few individual police official who did try to Intervene and stop the riots found their efforts frustrated primarily through lack of cooperation from the top. One, senior officer told us that when on October 31 and November 1 he received reports about some 2000 to 3000 people moving around the city in scooters and motorcycles without helmets, he contacted the CID seeking information from them regarding the identity of these people. Till November 7, when we met him, he had not received any report from the CID.

While analysing the role of the police during tile crucial period we can not afford to ignore the responsibility of those in position of authority at the top, namely the Home Ministry. The Home Minister, Mr. Narasimha Rao, who was inducted in the new Cabinet by Prime Minister Rajlv Gandhi soon after Mrs. Gandhi’s death, was empowered in his capacity as a Home Minister, to deploy the para-military forces (if the Delhi police force was found to be inadequate or inefficient) to quell the violence that erupted following the announcement of Mrs. Gandhi’s death. Mr. Rao is not a new incumbent who is unaware of the procedural technicalities. We are left with the question: why did Mr. Rao, with his past experience as a Home Minister in the previous cabinet, fail to take the necessary steps and summon the forces available to him to nip in the bud the communal elements that organised the riots?


Men at the top in the administration and the ruling party displayed repeatedly a curious lack of concern often bordering on deliberate negligence of duty and responsibility throughout the period of October 31 to November 4. From our talks with various Opposition Party leaders and prominent citizens we found that many among them had got in touch with senior Ministers as well as people in the Delhi Administration on October 31 itself, warning of impending troubles following the announcement of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. The newly sworn-in Home Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao was said to have assured the BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee on October 31 evening that “everything would be brought under control within a couple of hours” (The Statesman, November 10, 1984). Yet, at the same time of the same day, Gautam Kaul, Additional Commissioner of Police in front of the All India Medical Institute, referring to the disturbances which were just breaking out, said; “We cannot deal with the situation of this nature”. (INDIAN EXPRESS, November 1, 1984). Strangely enough, even after this, Mr. Kaul has been made Additional Commissioner, Security, Inspite of such warnings given well in advance, those in positions of authority did not seem to bother to take any firm step. (See Annexure 3).

Soon after the assassination (October 31), we heard from a reliable source, a meeting was held at 1 Safdarjung Road, the Prime Minister’s official residence where the then Lt. Governor P.G. Gavai, a Congress (I) leader M.L. Fotedar and the Police Commissioner among others, met. A senior police officer present at the meeting expressed the view that the army should be called as otherwise there would be a holocaust. No attention was paid to the view.

On November 1, when almost all of Delhi was aflame, an opposition MP rang up Mr. Shiv Shankar, a Minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s new cabinet, and the Home Minister Narasimha Rao, to inform them about the situation in the city and the need for army action. The Ministers were reported to have assured, him that army was about to be called and curfew would be imposed. (Several citizens including some senior government officials went to the President of India on the afternoon of November 1, and they were told that the Government was still considering whether to call out the army).

But our experience on November 1 tells a different story. As already mentioned earlier, till late night there were no signs of either curfew or army, while miscreants were on the rampage in front of the police. In the heart of the city – Connaught Circus – Sikh owned shops were being set on fire fight under the nose of heavy para-military and police pickets. We latter heard that the DC of Faridabad had asked for army on November 1, but troops arrived only on November 3.

On November 2, although the newspapers that day announced three official measures: (i) clamping of an indefinite curfew; (ii) shoot at sight orders; and (iii) deployment of army since 2 p.m. the previous day, when we went around South Delhi in the afternoon of November 2, we found that the miscreants were not only at large, but had swelled in numbers and had become more defiant.

In the Lajpat Nagar market, while police pickets sat by idly, hundred of young men, armed with awards, trishuls and from rods, blocked the main road. Around 2 p.m. an army convoy passed through the road. The miscreants did not scamper or panic. They merely made way for the convey to pass by temporally retreating to the by lanes, and regrouped themselves as soon as the convey left and began intimidating a peace march that had arrived on the spot.

On the morning of November 2, 8.30 a.m. onwards two opposition M.P.’s repeatedly requested both Mr. Narasmiha Rao and Shiv Shankar to provide army protection to trains carrying Sikh passengers arriving from Punjab. No troops were sent, with the result that every train was left at the mercy of gangsters who dragged out Sikhs from the incoming train compartments, lynched them, there their bodies on the platforma or the railway tracks and many were set on fire. Newspapers report that 43 persons were killed. This was denied by Doordarshan in the evening. Visiting the Tughlakabad station around 3.30 p.m. the STATESMAN reporter saw “two bodies still smouldering on the platforma, right in front of the armed force standing on the opposite platform across the tracks”. (November 3, 1984). The troops had either arrived after the incident, or the incident took place in front of the troops who did not intervene.

While analysing the role of the administration, we cannot remain content to the blame the Delhi administration and the bureaucrats only. The Ld. Governor Mr. Gavai, who was in charge of administration of Delhi during the period under review and who has been replaced now, could not have acted on his own-whether they were acts of commission or omission. Both the Delhi administration and the Union Cabinet Ministers, including the Home Minister, were well-informed of the sequence of events beginning from the evening of October 11, (as evident from the report of communication between the Opposition leaders and the Cabinet Ministers as recorded earlier in this report). We are left wondering whether the Union Minister failed to direct the Lt. Governor to take action. Or, did the Ministers direct and the Lt. Governor refuse to able by their directives? In that case, should not the Union Ministry punish the Lt. Governor ? But we were merely told on November 4 that Mr. Gavai had “proceeded on leave” and Mr. M.K. Wali had taken over:

What in rigues us further in the appointment of Mr. Well as the Lt. Governor Mr. Wali was the Home Secretary before this new appointment.

The record of what happened in Delhi from October 31 to November 3 (the eve of Mr. Wali’s appointment) is sufficient to prove the failure of the Home Ministry administrative machinery in suppressing riots. We wonder why the former Home Secretary, inspite of the proved failure of an administration of which he was a leading component, has been appointed the Ld. Governor. As evident from our review of official relief poperations. (Chapter-III), Mr. Wali’s administration seems to continue the same policy of callousness and inefficiency towards the refuges as was demonstrated in the recent past towards the Sikih victims during the riots in Delhi.


Our enquiries made at various quarters ranging from the affected localities to army sources led us to two questions. First, why was there a delay in calling out the troops? Second, even when the army was called in, why were they not effective in imposing a curfew and curbing the violence ?

The authorities at the top, including the four Ministers and senior officials of the Delhi Administration were repeatedly Informed about the exact situation in the city and its outskirts from the evening of October 31st. Prominent citizens, VlPs and members of the Opposition parties and people from affected localities both phoned and personally went and informed these authorities. Yet during seven valuable hours, between the time of the assassination and the time of the news of the death was made public, no security measures were taken.

As a senior government servant put it there are standing instruction on dealing with such situation. The SP and DCs have powers under the Criminal Procedure Code (Sections 130-131) to call in the armed forces in aid to civil power. Further, the para-military troops, including the Delhi Armed Police, CRPF are always available for such a situation. According to our information one brigade was available at Delhi which could have been requisitioned immediately.

The troops were alerted on the afternoon of the 31st. This means that within a few hours brigades from Meerut and Agra could have arrived at Delhi by the night of the 31st. As senior army officers put it, it is not the numerical strength of troops that is the crucial factor for imposing curfew. The crucial factor is clarity of intent and firm and clear instructions.

Despite announcement In the papers, AlR and Doordarshan about shoot at sight orders and imposition of curfew the troops were left without specific information from the police on the exact locations of the riots. No joint control from was set up.

In contrast, only a few days later, the authorities did not find any difficulty in moving a Sill brigade of the Indian Army consisting of 3000 men and another 1000 personnel from the Navy and the Air Force to line up the route of Mrs. Gandhi’s funeral.

The procedure to call in troops is simple. The Lt. Governor has to inform the Home Minister (Mr. Narasimha Rao) of the law and order situation and the latter informs the Defence Minister (the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was holding this portfolio) who gets in touch with the Army to call In the troops.

An essential ingredient for successful joint army – civilian administration operation is the setting up of a joint control room. During 1947 riots, when Lord Mountbatten was requested by Jawaharlal Nehru to control the communal situation, the former set up a joint control room at Rashtrapati Bhavan In order to coordinate the efforts of the civil administration and the armed forces. This precedent was quoted to Narasimha Rao – by an elderly resident of Delhi, who is well-versed in army operations.

Yet from October 31 to November 4 (the peak period of the riots which according to old timers were reminiscent of the 1947 riots in Delhi) no effort was made to set up a joint control room. The Commissioner of Police was operating from his office at lTO Police headquarters. The Army area commander was at the Dhaula Khan cantonment, and the Lit. Governor was at Raj Nivas. As a result, even after the deployment of troops, army people constantly complained about lack of information and cooperation from the police regarding the areas of tension. Even with the imposition of curfew, there were no authorities to implement it. An army major complained to a Delhi news reporter on November 4 that his men were not only getting no cooperation from the Shakarpur police station, but were often being deliberately misled by the police. The same reporter during a tour of the city of November 2, came across army personnel ranging from JCOs to majors, roaming around pathetically, after having lost touch either with headquarters or with their formations.

Army officers complained that they were not provided with scouts by the police to lead them to the trouble spots. In one instance a major who was asking for directions was carrying a map dated 1974, where the resettlement colonies (where the violence reached its peak during the period under survey) did not figure.

One army source told our team members that the deployment of troops followed a strange pattern. They were deployed by the civil authorities in stages, and in almost every case they were deployed after houses in the trouble spots had been burnt to cinders and the massacre was over. This explains the limited number of army figures (12) and casualties from army firings (2 deaths and 4 injured) during the entire period, (re: Major Gen. J.S. Jamwal’s statement of November 7. Indian Express November 8 ) The deployment reached toll strength only after the 3,000 troops and vehicles reserved for the funeral were made available to curb the violence.

The entire nature of using the army as revealed from the above sequence of events compels us to suspect whether or not a deliberate design to keep the army ineffective even after it was called in – and that too following a long Interval daring which the arson, looting and massacre were allowed to continue sometimes with the direct connivance of the local police Force.

Whatever might have been the motive for such a curious manner of utilising the army and whoever might have been responsible for reducing it to in important observer, the effects of such a policy have been quite disastrous for the morale of the army. Every army person we talked to expressed angul over the way that the army’s authority was being undermined. The 6th report of the National Police Commission has stated: “We note with concern the growing tendency on the part of the district authorities to seek instructions from higher quarters where none are necessary. ” It appears that the civilian administrators in Delhi although armed adequately with powers under the law to use the army to supress disturbances, did not care to use those powers. The omission stands out in sharp contrast with their use of the army in coping with Hindu-Muslim riots or insurgency in the north-east.

The question that needs to be probed into is: why did the civil administration betray a set pattern of acts of omission, marked by a consistent failure to take steps against erring policemen and a stubborn refusal to deploy the army properly? Further an analysis of the role of the army during the period under survey leaves us with a few questions that need to be answered by the people in positions of authority. According to the procedure laid down under the law, the Lt. Governor can request the Home Minister who in turn can ask the Defence Minister for army deployment. On October 31, the new cabinet had already been sworn in with the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi himself in charge of Defence, and Narsimha Rao, as the Home Minister. We want to know whether, with the growing deterioration in the. law and order situation in Delhi, when by November 1 the local police machinery had proved its failure to control the situation – either through negligence or connivance with the rioters – the Lt. Governor requested the Home Ministry for army aid. Even if he did not, was it not his responsibility to deploy the army as soon as he realised that the police bad failed (which was quite evident by November 1)? By removing a few civilian administrators (like Mr. Gavai) or police officers (like the Delhi Police Commissioner, Mr. Subhash Tandon) how can the government at the centre absolve itself of the blame of neglecting its obligations to the citizens and Its responsibility to maintain law and order – and this, inspite of several warnings to the effect that a Hindu -Sikh riot was bound to take place?

The experience of our team members gives rise to the suspicion that both the administration and the Cabinet might have abdicated their responsibility and that extra –administrative forces were steering the deployment and operation of troops. On November 3, a group of concerned citizens visited Trilokpuri where they were requested by panic-stricken survivors of a widespread holocaust (described later) to intervene on their behalf and seek army protection. They tried to get in touch with various people both In the administration and the Cabinet to convey to them the request of the Trilokpuri victims. No one was available, either in their offices or homes.

R O L E O F C O N G R E S S ( I )

Our surmise that during the period under survey the legitimate authorities were superseded aid decision-making powers were assumed by a few individual Congress (I) leaders, is confirmed not only by the above mentioned incident, but also the experience of residents in the riot hit areas. We were told both by Hindus and Sikhs – many among the latter Congress (I) supporters – that certain Congress (I) leaders played a decisive role in organising the riots. Residents of Mangolpuri told us they saw Mr. Ishwar Singh, a Congress (I) Corporator among many others (their names are given in Annexure – 4) actively participating in the orgy of violence. All these people, were described by the local residents as lieutenants of the Congress (I) M P from the area – Sajjan Kumar. Similarly in Anand Parbat, Congress (I) councilors like Bhairava, Mahendra and Mangat Ram, considered to be loyal followers of the Congress (I) M P Mr, Dharamdas Shastri, were named as the main culprits. In Prakash Nagar, Congress (I) people were found carrying voter’s lists to identify Sikh households. In the Gandhinagar area again, a local Congress (I) councillor Sukhanlal was identified by the victims as the main leader of the assailants. Escapees from the area who we met at the Shakarpur relief camp on November 6 blamed the Congress (I) MP from the area Mr, H.K.L Bhagat for having masterminded the riots. On November 1, Satbir Singh (Jat) a Youth Congress (I) leader brought buses filled with people from Ber Sarai to the Sri Guru Harikishan Public School at Munirka and burnt the school building and buses and continued looting and assaults on Sikhs the whole night. Another group of miscreants led by Jagdiah Tokas, a Congress (I) corporator joined the above group in looting and assaults. In the Safdarjung – Kldwai Nagar area of South Delhi, eye witness accounts by those who stood in front of All India Medical Institute from where Mrs. Gandhi’s body was taken out in procession on the evening of October 31, confirmed the presence of the Congress (I) Councillor of the area, Arjan Dass at the time when attacks on Sikh pedestrians, bus drivers and conductors began (Annexure 2 ).

The allegations against these individuals repeatedly by voiced by the residents of the respective localities which we visited, cannot be dismissed as politically motivated propaganda, since many among the Sikhs who accused them of complicity in the riots, had been traditionally Congress (I) voters. Sufferers from Trilokpuri and Mangolpurl resettlement colonies whom we met looked dazed and uncomprehending when they said to us: “We were allotted these houses here by Indiraji. We have always voted for her party. Why were we attacked ?”

Additional indications of tile involvement of the above mentioned Congress (I) leaders in the riots was provided later when we heard that the Congress (I) MPs from the respective areas were putting pressure on the local police station to release the culprits who had been rounded up on ¾ November.

On November 5, Mr. Dharmadas Shastri went to the Karol Bagh police station to protest against police “misbehaviour” with those who were found in possession of looted property. (INDIAN EXPRESS, November 6, 1984). Mr. Shastri however dismissed the report as false. At about the same time H.K.L. Bhagat, another Congress (I) MP was reported to be trying to secure the release of several criminals who had been arrested by the Gandhinagar police station. Describing the dilemma before the police, a senior police official said to our team members: “Sher pinjre se nikal diya: phir kahte hain pakad ke le ao ! ” (First the tigers are let loose from their cages and then we are ordered to round them up). When asked who was releasing them, he gave a knowing smile.

The same official told us that when some Congress (I) leaders came to a police station, seeking, the release of their followers, they were asked to accompany a police party in a raid on some houses for recovery of looted property. But these leaders refused when they were told that they would have to be witnesses.

We also heard of cases where even Sikhs close to the Congress (I) were not spared. In Sajjan Kumar’s house at Paschimpuri November 6, we were introduced to an elderly Sikh gentlemen who claimed to be an old Congressman whose shop was burnt by miscreants. He said that he knew who the culprits were. When our team members asked him why he did not file a complaint with the police, he said he would do ii at the right time. Mr. Sajjan Kumar’s secretary drew us aside and dropped a hint that the BSS workers had been behind the arson. He however could not name any particular RSS leader or activist. Mr. Charanjit Singh, a Sikh Congress (I) MP from Delhi, suffered a loss of Rs. 10 crores when his Pure Drinks factories were burnt down. Narrating his experience Mr. Singh said: “I telephoned the Lt. Governor and the Police several times, telling them that mobs were burning our factories. I was told that the force would be arriving but that never happened”. He added that he had been a “failure” to his constituents, since all assistance ” was denied to him”. (STATESMAN November 10, 1984).

The administration appears to have been persuaded by the decision makers at the top to treat the alleged criminals with kid gloves. Inquiries at some of the police stations in the affected areas revealed that the police bad announced that those In possession of looted properly should submit them within a stipulated time period and would be let off if they did so. A senior Police Officer simply described this to us as a “Voluntary disclosure Scheme”. We feel that this is a strange way of dispensing justice. Restoration of the booty by tie looters is no substitute for their punishment. In the absence of any convincing explanation on the part of the authorities for this extraordinarily queer way of dealing with criminals; we are left with the suspicion that there is a calculated design by some influential forces to protect them.

The Congress (I) High Command’s reluctance to probe into the allegations against their own concillors and other leaders further ends credence to the suspicious voiced above. Even Prime Minister Rajlv Gandhl seems to dismiss the serious charges being levelled against his party men. On November 6, when Charan Singh who accompanied a team of Opposition leaders in a deputation to Mr. Gandhi, drew his attention to the reports of Congress (I) men pressurising the police to get their followers released. which appeared in the INDIAN EXPRESS some days ago, Mr. Gandhl’ said that he had heard about it and then reported that the INDIAN EXPRESS is the opposition’s paper just as the National Herald is Congress l’s. The next day the AICC-I headquarters came out with a statement saying that the allegations were utterly malicious. On November 8 however, Mr. Gandhi asked his senior party colleagues to probe into every allegation of Congress-I workers’ involvement in the violent incidents. But till today, no one knows what will be the nature of the “probe”

In fact Mr. G.K. Moopanar, who is in charge of the organisation In the AICC(I) told newsmen on November 9 that the had not received any Intimation for any such inquiry so far.

It is difficult to believe that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was unaware of the activities of important and well known members of his party for Hill five days (from October 31 to November 5). Mr. Gandhi had been the General Secretary of AICC(I) since 1982 and in charge of reorganising his party. He had been presiding over training camps for Congress (I) workers at various places. We wonder how after all these training programmes the cadres of Mrs. Gandhi’s party could go on such a murderous rampage.


Although we do not intend at this stage to go into the role of the media during the riots, a few words in this connection may not be out of place. The first day’s evening bulletins (October 31) brought out by different newspaper establishments stated that there were “two Sikhs and one clean shaven Sikh” among the assailants. The reporters did not clarify whether the news was from official or unofficial sources. Nor was it clear how a “clean shaven Sikh” could be identified as a Sikh. In later reports the next day and the following days, we were told that only two assailants – both Sikhs were involved. What Happened to the earlier reported third one? No newspaper has yet followed up the discrepancy.

But what is of immediate ate relevance is the question: should the media have described the assailants immediately as Sikhs ? Given the background of the Punjab situation, such mentioning of a community by name was bound to excite communal passions and inflame communal hatred. It may be worthwhile in this context to refer to a recommendation made at a seminar on communal writings held in New Delhi in November 1970 under the joint auspices of the Press Institute of India and the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India. It was suggested that certain facts which may aggravate the situation if published straight away should be printed after a stipulated period.

We were also intrigued to find Doordarshan allowing the broadcast of highly provocative slogans like ‘khoon ka badla khoon’ (blood for blood) by some members from the mourning crowd at Teen Murti.

There was a tendency among many reporters to concentrate on the names of important politicians instead of on earnest efforts made by individuals or groups. Thus, when a peace march was organised by a group of concerned citizens in South Delhi on November 2, which was joined by the Janata leader Mr. Chandersekhar and some of his followers, some newspapers the next day described it as a Janata Party march. This created temporary misunderstandings and hampered the efforts of the non-party group to bring together all citizens, many of whom did not want to identify themselves with any particulars political party. The need to keep party politics out of ventures like peace marches to put down riots, is yet to be recognised by our media people who seem to remain obsessed with names of political personalities.

This brings us to the role of Opposition political leaders. We regret to say that by and large, they failed to rise to the occasion during the crucial days of October 31 to November 5. Although news of arson and carnage was pouring into the offices of the political parties every hour, they hardly made any effort to rush to the spot with their cadres, stop the violence and organise peace committees in the localities, and remained content with issuing a Joint statement with the Prime Minister on November 1 pleading for peace and amity.

On November 3, when following the carnage at Trilokpuri, the group of concerned citizens went to the Opposition party leaders (referred to earlier), some among the former appealed to the Janata Party leader Chandrasekhar to lead them in a deputation to Teen Murti and appeal to the Prime Minister. Mr. Chandrasekhar rose, folded his hands and pleaded: “I cannot do it. I don’t want to be accused of ruining the late Prime Minister’s funeral”.


While the disturbances that shocks Delhi from October 31 to November 5 could be described as an ‘organised disorder’ with signs of meticulous planning by certain groups in some areas, deliberate laxity on the part of the administration in other areas and wilful relinquishment of responsibility of senior Ministers as well as opposition parties on n wider scale, we cannot at the same time rule out the existence of hostility and suspicion among large sections of the Hindu population against the Sikhs because of the happenings in Punjab Airing the list two years.

By not solving the outstanding economic and political issues in Punjab, by allowing Sikh extremism and Hindu communalism to feed on each other leading to the army raid in the Golden Temple and antagonising thereby large sections of the Sikh community, the ruling party at the centre had sown the seeds of communal division between Hindus and Sikhs.

As a result, when from October 31, organised assaults on tile Sikh began (as distinct from a spontaneous mass upsurge against Sikh which some observers are trying to make it out to be), the Hindu public by and large appeared to be in a mood that sanctioned such assaults. Comments by responsible Hindu citizens in Delhi indicate to some extent the popular psyche. An officer belonging to the IPS was heard to comment that the government was not preventing the violence 80 that people could let off steam and the Sikhs in Punjab would be ‘taught a lesson. An Indian who works for the UNO in Geneva who flew to Delhi for Mrs. Gandhi’s funeral, told a member of our team that the orgy of violence had be«m allowed to ‘teach the Sikhs a lesson’. When asked about the suffering that this was causing the common people, he said: ‘ Who is suffering?’ The long record of uninterrupted depredations by the Sikh extremists in Punjab had possibly created a desire for relation that blinded even those who are retarded as responsible people among the Hindus.

How did the Sikh victims view this attitude of their Hindu neighbours ? Victims in Gurgaon said : “People stood on their rooftops watching our houses burning, just, as they do when observing the Republic Day Parade”.

It was this mood again that allowed the Hindu public to believe all sorts of rumours ranging from the story of poisoning drinking water to that of armed Sikhs prowling the streets to attack Hindu. The next step from such belief in rumours is acquiescence in the rampage that had started from the evening of October 31 and even active participation by the younger and more aggressive Hindu in some cases.

The anti-Sikh communal partisan feelings had penetrated the lower ranks of the administration also, as evident from the behaviour of the police force, who were given the reins for three or four days by their superior officers.

Given this mood of vicarious exultation at the plight of the Sikhs among the public, it was easy for an organised group enjoying the patronage of the rang party to carry out the plan of systematic destruction and killings.

The anti-Sikh sentiments in some areas were also stoked by some is crated expressions of happiness at Mrs. Gandhi’s death among some Sikhs, and of bravado, and attempts at resistance against depredations by the Hindu mobs. It is possible that attempts at resistance could have been taken as a challenge by the marauding hordes who were sure of getting police protection at every step. We came across reports, corroborated by some responsible residents of a few neighborhoods, of Sikhs dancing the ‘bhangra’ on the night of October 31. Such incidents reinforced the simmering hostility against the Sikhs.

But these stray incidents were marginal and do not explain the wide scale explosion of indiscriminate violence against all Sikhs throughout India on the same date and the same time, which could be the result of only a well designed strategy.

The only signs of courage and initiative in an otherwise ominous landscape were demonstrated by those Hindu and Muslim neighbours who helped Sikh families in the affected areas. We came across a large number of Sikh inmates in the relief Camps who told us repeatedly that but for these neighbours they would have been butchered.

In a makeshift camp opposite the Kalyanpuri police station on November 3, we met a Hindu family, whose house was burnt down by the miscreants because he had given shelter to his Sikh neighbours.

A postal employee living in Bhogal told us how his house was damaged and partly burnt because he helped two Sikhs. With army assistance he moved the Sikhs to his village in Faridabad.

Members of a voluntary organisation traced two Sikh families who were given shelter by Hindus in Khichripur November 3. Defying a belligerent mob that stood at the entrance of the lanes, a local Hindu youth led the members to the house and rescued the families who were being sheltered by a poor Hindu family. The next day, the volunteers following a request by a mother in a relief camp went to trace her daughter in Trllokpurl who was being looked after by a Hindu faintly. The latter restored the daughter to the volunteers, kept with them two other Sikh children whose parents were still traced. “It is our responsibility to look affair them”, they said.

Near Azadpur, a Hindu factory owner hid a Sikh inside the factory premises. When the Hindus surrounded the factory demanding that the Sikh be handed over to them, the factory owner persuaded the Sikh to shave his hair and beard, gave him a cycle which helped him to pass through the crowd and escape.

On the G T Karnal Road, Hindus saved a Gurudwara and a Sikh doctor’s clinic from being burnt down. In the same area, from November I to 5, Delhi University teachers and students kept vigil around the entry paints to lanes where Slkhs lived.

Hindus from Munirka village and residing In Munirka colony provided protection in their own homes to ten Sikh families.

Thirty Sikh families residing in Mayur Vihar were guarded 11 through the period by young Hindu neighbours who resisted attempts by outsides to raid the compound.

According to a rough estimate based on information gatgered from different sources, at least 600 Sikhs were saved by Hindus of Trliokpurl. According to an army officer posted in Shahadara of the Sikh families he rescued from different parts of the area, at least 70% were sheltered by Hindus.

It is these acts of courage, however, few they may be, which reassure us that sanity still prevails in our country.



The resettlement colony of Sultanpuri has a mixed population of Hindus and Sikhs employed in various occupations. Many of the Hindus belong to the lower castes and are employed in various bodies as safal karamcharis. Among the Sikhs are Sikligars (who specialise in preparing metal gratings for building construction), charpoy weavers from Alwar, scooter rickshaw owners, TV mechanics, electricians, and shop keepers. Some also work as scooter rickshaw drivers, rickshaw pullers, vendors and labourers.

It is significant that the members of the two communities lived in perfect harmony prior to the riots. This was testified to by the Sikhs In the various relief camps. On no occasion in the past had there been any evidence of tensions between them.

The Sikh residents of the colony were taken by surprise when in the late hours of Thursday (November 1) they were suddenly attacked by violent mobs. According to eye witnesses the mob consisted of local people and of outsiders believed to be Jats of neighbouring villages (Mundka is one such village). The attacks were directed at the men folk and a large number of Sikh males were killed. Some of the survivors were able to identify these who played a leading role in the attack. The leaders included local politicians, the police and some local people.

In trying to identify and understand the assailants and arsonists it seems indubitable that sweeper urchins, beggars, mechanics, drivers, vegetable sellers, etc. from the local areas were involved. But it was not entirely on their own initiative. Moat of the killers in Sultanpuri were led by Pradhans, who are at the base of the political hierarchy. It was they who incited the mobs against the Sikhs and helped to identify Sikh houses and establishments. The Pradhans were In turn linked to the local Congress M. P. Some of the Pradhans who were repeatedly held responsible by the survivors for acts of incitement and for aiding and abetting the rioters were Mr. Chauhan, Mr. Bagri and Mr. Gupta. The M. P. who was most common held responsible for the attacks was Mr. Sajjan Kumar of the Congress (I).

Police connivance with’ the rioters In Sultanpuri is indicated by the fact that the SHO by the name of Mr. Bhatti reportedly not only killed a couple of Sikhs, but also helped the mob to disarm the Sikhs. The police involvement may be summed up In the words of one survivor “Khud mara hai, miley huey the “. (they themselves killed: they were in complicity).

Almost every refugee we spoke to gave an identical version. Also involved in the carnage in Sultanpuri were kerosene suppliers Brahmanand Gupta, Veranand, Master and Ved Prakash who provided the fuel for the Sikh funeral as also a Jat doctor Changa.

Others actively participating were the owner of the Hanuman ration shop, Gajanand, godown owner, Gulab Singh and an auto rickshaw driver Omi. All these criminals supervised the carnage.

The attacks which began on the Sikh residents on Thursday night went on relentlessly till Friday afternoon (November 1-2). Among the directions heard being shouted to the mob were ‘kill then, rape women’. The mobs were equipped with lathis, iron rods and other weapons wad carried kerosene with them.

Many Hindu neighbours had sheltered Sikh Families and locked them up in different houses. Unfortunately this did not save them from the looting, arson, lynching and killed that followed. Houses were being identified, set on fire, and Sikh males killed, women were seen carrying away loot, from the houses of better off Sikhs: gold jewellery, T.V. sets and other things were carried off. A lot of property including means of livelihood such as handcarts and rictshaws were systematically destroyed.

The killings were brutal. One Sikh was pushed into a car, which was then act ablaze. Others were hit, thrown on the ground, doused with kerosene and set on fire.

A pregnant women was stabbed by the rioters and some women are reported to have been raped. A graphic account is available with certain members of our team who visited the relief camp at Shakurpur (Rani Bagh).

‘In a large hall of the Shakurpur Camp housing the Sultanpuri victims of the carnage sit a row of women and children huddled together with shock and grief inscribed on every part of their beings. There is not a single boy of over ten years in the group and boys are rare. Each group consists of a woman of the older generation, three or four young widows, a few adolescent girls and the rest are children, ranging from ten years to absolutely destitute with One such household consists of 18 people rendered absolutely destitute with not a single earning member left; all four adult males have been murdered. Two of the younger women have new born babies, one six day old (it was born a day before the killings) and another 10 days old. They stared blankly. But the older woman who had lost her husband and three sons gave vent to her grief bitterly “ab to sabse accha yeh hoga ki aap ham sab ko jahar dila dain; ab ham ji nahin sakte; kaise jiyenge, kiske liye jiyenge?”

She was voicing the sentiment of many of the women present, all the whom had watched their men folk being attached and cut down, then doused with kersene and set ablaze. Not one of these were willing to consider returning to their original homes after the brutal massacre they had lived through. How can they even think of it unless the guilty are identified and punished?

The blocks most badly affected were A4 (65 killed, 15 missing), Pl. 2 and 3 (31 killed and 5 missing) and C3 and C4. From an enumeration done in xxxx about 2000-survivors mainly from Sultanpuri) the figures are xxx 25 injured and 52 missing from this group alone. This means that xxx every second family suffered at least one family member xxx to an expert it is curious that the member of injured is so few compared to the number of dead. In cases of looting and killing due to mob frenzy, the number injured is usually much higher. This implies that the attackers were not disorderly.

Matters did not end with the events of November I and 2. During the next tow days, Saturday and Sunday (November 3 and 4) the SHO is reported to have got a barber brought to a hall where the Sikhs were herded together (prior to evacuation) and made to pay HB. 21 each to get themselves shaved. They were threatened that they would get shot if they did not comply, It was reported that the barber made Its. 500.

Aground 5000 Sikhs were herded together till the army evacuated them three days later. Sonic 800 are still in Sultanpuri under Army protection. Attempts at adequate arrangements for their food were still being made by the army on Thursday, November 8, a whole week after the terror started.

The survivors at Camp II with a few exceptions do not want to go back. Reportedly only 100 from the 2000 in this camp went back. But 20 had returned b” November 9th. Even within the camp they are feeling insecure.

The same sweepers who only a few (lays ago looted their houses and killed their husbands and sons have managed to sneak Into the camps for the ostensible purpose of doing the sanitation work. These people are regularly keeping watch on them and spying on their movements.


The centre of the holocaust was the jhuggi and jhopri colony (JJ Colony) at Mangolpuri in West Delhi where a large number of Sikhs are concentrated ill certain blocks.

The disturbances started on November I evening after a police van had come to the G Block and announced that water had been poisoned. The other two rumours – that Sikhs were celebrating Mrs. Gandhi’ s death by distributing sweets and that Hindu corpses had arrived in trains from Punjab were also soon making the rounds.

Apprehending trouble, several Sikhs from different blocks approached the police for help. One woman survivor wham we met later at the Shakurpur relief camp on November 5 told us that when she went to the police station for protection, the police said “We cannot do anything- you are now on your own”. Later, during the riots, the miscreants were seen using diesel from police vans to set fire to the houses of the Sikhs, One group of survivors from Block X told us that the police took them out from their houses on the plea of rescuing them and then turned them over to the mob waiting outside.

According to Information gathered from the survivors, the assailants were from the nearby Jat villages and were accompanied by local Schedule Caste people – the same composition of the mob which we found in Trilokpurl. Hovering around the arsonists were local Congress(I) leaders and followers in jeeps and other vehicles. The survivors identified Mala Ram, a local Congress(I) leader, who came with about 300 people and personally supervised the arson, looting and murders, lshwar Singh, Salim Querishi and Shaukeen (Congress (I) workers belonging to the Waqf Club), Rajinder Singh all well known Congress(Q activists were found going around instructing the mob, providing kerosene and pointing oat Sikh homes.

One single name which cropped up wherever we went interviewing the residents of Mangolpuri was that of Sajjan Kumar, the Congress (I) MP of the area. Almost in one voice, they alleged that Sajjan Kumar had masterminded the violence, items people accused him of having paid Rs. 100 and a bottle of liquor to each person taking part in the may-hem. The extent of hatred towards him among the Sikh survivors of Mangolpuri was evident when Sajjan Kumar visited the Mangolpari police station on November 4 where the survivors were waiting to be transported to a refugee camp. Members of our team were witness to a scene where the Sikhs abused him openly and held him responsible for the carnage. The Congress (I) MP tried to pacify them by pleading his Innocence. “Why should my party kill you who are Congress (I) supporters?” be said, and laid the blame on the Lt. Governor who had been replaced the previous day by a new successor. A little later when the team visited the Punjabi Bagh camp where some among the Mangolpuri refugees had arrived, the team was told that the hungry refugees ‘bad refused to touch the foodstuff brought earlier by Sajjan Kumar.

The violence Indulged in by the mob was marked by the most brutal atrocities. Women survivors told us bow their children were ripped apart, their husbands and sons made to cut oft their hair, beaten op with iron rods and then burnt alive. Almost all the Sikh Houses in the 26 locks of Mangolpuri were attacked and destroyed and the main targets of murderous assault were the young male members of the households. Official attempts to underestimate the extent of killings by giving out the figure of only 9 fatalities are contradicted by the list provided by the Delhi State Committee of the CPI (M) which from a house -to-house survey in a few blocks alone found at least 51 killed.

When we visited Mangolpori on November 5 we were shown spots were the bodies were burnt and we were taken to a ‘nallah’ between Mangolpuri and Sultanpuri where we were told several hundred bodies were dumped.

It was only on the evening of November 3 that the army arrived at Mangolpuri. Narrating the event, one Sikh whom we met at the Shakurpur relief camp where he was staying with other refugees, told us that they were taken out by the mob, made to stand la a park and when they were about to be set on fire, the troops arrived and saved them.

Before the arrival of troops, the few sources of protection available to the sufferers of Mangolpari were the Hindu and Muslim neighbours who at tremendous term to their lives gave shelter to the Sikhs. They hid them in their homes and shops and resisted attempts by the mob to trace them out. A Muslim young roan in Nangloi told 08 how Ids family saved a number of Sikh men, women and children and secretly transported them to the relief camps.

The experience of a Hindu, C. Lal of Mangolpuri is revealing. He passed through the days of the 1947 partition, when he crossed over from Sialkot to India. He relived the same days during the first week of November when his brother’s shop was looted and burnt, because he gave shelter to several-Sikh families and formed a peace committee in his locality to protect the Sikhs.


The happenings in Trilokpuri, a trans-Jamuna resettlement colony in the east of Delhi, between October 31 and November 2 were a gruesome picture Jot Hie intensity of the butchery. Within just 48 hours, at least 400 Sikhs, mainly young men were burnt alive, with the connivance of the local police machinery and active participation of an organised group of miscreants led by a Congress (I) Councillor.

As in other areas, here also the carnage was preceded by the usual floating of the familiar rumour that Sikhs had distributed sweets to ‘celebrate’ Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination on October 31. The other version which we heard when we visited Trilokpuri three days later was that a Hindu mob had come to attack the Gurudwara on October 31, and the Sikhs resisted by waving their swords. When the mob attacked the ‘Gurudwara’ stones were buried from the top of the temple, and the rampage began. In the course of our investigation however we could not find any single person who could claim that he had personally seen the Sikhs distributing sweets. Some people however corroborated the report about the Sikhs waving swords from the Gurudwara when the Hindu mob came to attack it.

From accounts related to us by the survivors, by the Hindu neighbours and by some reports who visited the support soon after the incident on November 2, we could reconstruct the grisly sequence of events.

The beginning of the tragedy could be traced to the night of October 31 when reportedly the Congress (l) Councillor Ashok Kumar, a doctor who runs a clinic in Kalyanpun, one kilometre from Trilokpuri, held a meeting at the latter place. The violence that broke out immediately following the meeting reached its climax the next morning , when Gujar farmers from the neighbouring village of Chilla landed at Trilokpuri, and accompanied by a group of local inhabitants (described by the residents as Scheduled Caste people) raided Blocks 28, 32, 33 and 34 and systemically attacked Sikh houses, dragged out the young men, killed and burnt them and set the houses on fire. In some cases, the assailants hit the victims with iron rods on their heads before pouring kerosene on them.

Between Blocks 32 arid 31 there are large open spaces where over 50 Sikh families were living in jhuggies and jhopries. These hutments were burnt down, and the menfolk were killed.

A study of the list oi-those who were alleged to have taken part in the loot and killings reveals that a large number of them were notorious anti-social elements well known In the area. One of them, Somnath of House &0, Block 32 was responsible for the murder of several Sikha Including Hoshiyar Singh son of Milap Singh and three other young men whom he locked up in a house and later killed them with t he help of others.

(A detailed list of the alleged criminals and the nature of their crimes of Trilokpuri during the period order survey is given in Annexure I).

Some of the participants were shop keepers who supplied kerosene to the arsonists. Some others among the neighbours of the victims were petty traders like milkmen, mechanics or dealers in cement. The majority of the victims were poor Sikh—mechanics, artisans and daily wage labourers.

The role of the police was on the same lines as found elsewhere in Delhi during the period. The sanctioned strength of the police in the Kalyanpuri police station, under which Trilokpari falls’-is 113, including one Inspector (who is the Station House Officer) and around 90 constables among others. The SHO reached Trilokpuri at about 2.30 p.m. on November I when the plunder and killings were taking place. The first thing he did was to remove the head constable and another constable from the spot, allowing the criminals to escape whatever little detection there was possible. It was a continuos spree of arson, rape and murders after that. Later enquiries conducted by a senior police official revealed that at least four women, their ages ranging from 14 to 50 were gang raped. Later Seven cases of rape from Trilokpuri were officially reported by the J. P. Narayan Hospital. Delhi.

During the height of the killings however, there was little effort on the ‘part of the police either to stop the orgy or to check the figures of casualties. On November 2, at around 5. 30 p.m. Nikhil Kumar, ACP of the Police received information that “Block 32 mei mar kat ho rahi hai”. Murders are taking place in Block 32). The police control room curiously enough recorded that only three people had been injured. And this was at a time when already entire rows of houses In several blocks of Trilokpuri were burning and their inmates killed.

A Reporter of a Delhi based newspaper who reached Trilokpuri at about 2 p.m. on November 2 was greeted, by a belligerent mob in Block 28 which threatened him and stoned his car. When he went back to the Kalyanpuri Police station, the SHO Surjit Singh told him that ‘total peace’ was reigning in the area. He however spotted a truck outside the Police Station with our bodies inside, one of them still alive. When the reporter, out of despair, turned back to contact the police headquarters, on his way he came across about 70 Sikh women and children walking along the road under Nizamuddin bridge. They told him that all their menfolk had been Killed in Trilokpuri, and that they were fleeing for their lives. The reporter’s attempts to seek help from several army personnel on the road elicited little response, since most of the latter had either lost touch with their respective headquarters, or had no specific orders.

Finally, after reaching the police headquarters at ITO, he met the ACP, Nikhil Kumar, who told that he could not do anything and could only pass his message to the control room. He described his role as that of a ‘guest artist’.

The reporter revisited Trilokpuri in the evening of the same day and found the remains of the carnage-burnt houses, dead bodies and the SHO with two constables walking around. The SHO told him that he did not have any knowledge of what had happened. When later in the evening the reporter visited the police headquarters, he was told by another ACP that according to the tatter’s information there was ‘peace’ in Trilokpuri. The reporter pointed out that at least 300 people had been burnt and that the police were only counting dead bodies that were still recognizable ignoring those which had been reduced to cinders.

It was only around 7 p.m. on November 2 that senior police officials reached Trilokpuri. Personnel of the Central Reserve police force were deployed then, and the survivors were rescued from the affected blocks.

When members of our team reached Trilokpuri at about 7 a. m. on November 3 we found the survivors-old men, women and children, some of them with severe burns, huddling together In the open on the main road. Weeping women narrated to us how their menfolk were slaughtered and alleged that in some cases the police directed the attacks. Many among the survivors told us that Dr. Ashok Kumar the local Congress (I) Councillor had instigated the mob. The entire Sikh community in the area, they said, was left at the mercy of the mob for two full days till the arrival of the CRP.

As soon as we entered Block 32, we were greeted by a strong stench of burnt bodies which were still rotting inside some of the houses. The entire lane was littered with burnt pieces of furniture, papers, scooters and piles of ash in the shape of human bodies the unmistakable signs of burnt human beings. Dogs were on the prowl. Rats were nibbling at the still recognizable remains of a few bodies.

As we watched the scene, we remembered what we had just read in the morning newspapers that day. Describing the situation in Delhi on the previous day-November 2, when the carnage was continuing at Triliokpuri- the Lt. Governor Mr. Gavai had said that the situation in the capital was ‘under control. From what we witnessed at Trilokpuri, it was’ evident that the situation there on November 2 was indeed ‘under control’, but the ‘control’ was wielded by a powerful group of influential persons who could mobilise the local police to help them in the may-hem and immobilise the entire administration for more than 48 hours to enable them to carry out meticulously their plans of murder and destruction.

The list relief to be given to the Trilokpuri victims was not by the authorities but a voluntary group of ver two dozen who brought them food, medical care and concern. Even though a women had given birth to a child among the victims, the authorities had not even arranged for medical care for her or the other persons seriously injured more than a day earlier-Members of this voluntary team rescued Sikh families who were hiding in Hindu homes as late as 7.30 in the evening. These rescues were made in the presence of the District Commissioner who had to be cajoled into helping. The authorities assured the victims that they will be given all help and things like blankets though they had none on hand. In fact the authorities have been using the Farash Bazaar Camp (where Trilokpuri victims were sent) to show their efficiency whereas a great dea if the work there has been done by voluntary agencies.


Taking into consideration the extent of violence and arson on the night of the 31st October it would be reasonable to expect that the Delhi Administration would have anticipated the need to set up relief camps. Neither the Government nor the Administration seemed to be concerned with the problem and their attitude of deliberate inaction seems to be a continuation of their stance during the carnage.

The authorities have refused to make realistic estimates of the number of people killed, the injured, the number of widows and orphans, or the extent of damage to property. Further, the Administration to date refuses to recognise most of the people who have taken refuge in the Gurudwaras as displaced persons entitled to relief and compensation. The Administration recognises only ten camps whereas a voluntary organisation, Nagrik-Ekta Manch has identified at least 18 others within Delhi and several on the outskirts. The list of these camps is given in Annexure V. According to the Government there are about 20,000 displaced persons. In fact there are at least 50,000.

The Administration has tried to manipulate figures and thus gloss over the enormity of the problem. For instance the former Police Commissioner, Shri Subhash Tandon, at a Press Conference on November 2nd said that the number of dead was between 15 and 20. To this the then Lt. Governor Gavai added “things are under control” (Indian) Express November 3, 1984). The official death toll is now 613 when eye witness accounts speak of hundreds of bodies lying at Trilokpuri alone.

There was no attempt to do any relief work till November 2nd. On that day for the first time the Administration with the help of the Army evacuated people to the police thana or to school buildings. After that there was no sign of the Administration despite various pious announcements in the media, by the new Lt. Governor Mr. Walt about giving blankets and mattresses to the refugees for comfort.

Thousands went hungry and had to urinate and defecate in the corridors of the school building. The injured lay in the rooms without any medical treatment. There was no one to share the horror or the anguish of widows, to say a word to them. The first initiative for relief came from local communities, mostly Hindus and tram Gurudwaras who brought the first meal and organised langars. For instance at Farash Bazaar the people from Jhilmil colony brought their own utensils and organised a langar in the face of threats from the mobs.

The local initiative was followed by the efforts of the voluntary groups and individual. Hundreds of students, housewifes, teachers, doctors and many prominent citizen organised relief camps and collected supplies. The Administration was nowhere to be seen.

The Delhi Administration appointed a Relief Commissioner to deal with the crists on November 4, 1984. On November 6, the Delhi Administration announced a scheme for rehabilitation and Joint Secretaries from various Ministries were pat In charge of various camps in which a compensation of Rs. 10,000 was to be given to the next of kin for each dead. Five thousand was to be given to each seriously Injured and a thousand for those who I sustained minor injuries. The same amounts were to be given to those I who had suffered damage to their property. On November 7 the Prime Minister announced that he was releasing a sum of Rs. 40 lakhs for relief work for the Union Territory of Delhi from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The question that arises is where did the money go, for it has not reached I the people at the camps. There is no scheme made for the implementation of the relief, scheme and no agency has been created for this purpose. The joint control room at Raj Nivas for relief does not seem to have even got information about the number of camps to the city.

When the government did move in, they were met with hostility from the people and atleast on one occasion the people refused to accept the food brought by a M. P. because the people felt that he was involved in the carnage. in fact the arrival of the VlPs was often a hinderance to the relief work being carried out.

The plight of the displaced persons was pathetic. The army had clear instructions not to allow anyone to photograph the camps. A member of our team was roughed up by the army and his film snatched away at the Shakurpur camp when he took a photograph of Uie people in the camp.

No attempt has been made to take a census of the people at the camps and estimate the number of men, women and children. None of these people have been given identity cards on which basis they could claim the compensation and now they will get entangled in red tapes and possible litigation.

According to Press reports more than two crores of looted property has been recovered but no attempt has been made to arrest the looters who if arrested are released on the intervention of the local leaders.

Further there is no system worked out by which the recovered property will be returned to its rightful owners. Already VCRs are finding their way to the market at a ridiculous price.

Within a week the Administration started to forcibly evacuate the displaced persons and sending them back to what used to be their homes, which are now cinders and ashes. Their houses destroyed, their property looted, and the murderers and looters wandering free the people are terrified of returning to the areas which are full of memories of murder and arson. Officially there have been 2,960 arrests but hundreds of these people have been released either on intervention of local politicians or are on bail.

The Government did not mobilise all the resources at the command (e.g. the army) to provide medical care and sanitation, nor did it print enough forms for compensation claims. A voluntary agency had to have thousands of forms printed for the camps in their care. The government’s callousness towards the problem of relief and rehabilitation is in consonance with its earlier policy of calculated inaction during the carnage. How could the government not have anticipated the need for an effective mach in for relief and rehabilitation? Further, now was it that just at the time the government was announcing the setting up of a Relief Commissioner the forcible evacuations of the people started without any assurance to them of their future security ?


The social and political consequences of the Government’s stance during the carnage, its deliberate inaction and its callousness towards relief and rehabilitation are far reaching. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that the government has made no serious inquiries into the entire tragic episode which seems to be so well planned and designed.

It is curious that for the seven hours that the government had between the time of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination and official announcement of her death, no security arrangements were made for the victims.

The dubious role of the politicians belonging to the ruling party has been highlighted in various press reports. The government, under pressure, has changed a few faces by transfers and suspension of Junior Officers.

It is important that we do not fall for this ploy, for our investigation reveals that these are only scapegoats.

The riots were well organised and were of unprecedented brutality. Several very disturbing questions arise that must be answered:

1. What was the government and the administration doing for seven hours between the time of the assassination and the announcement of Mrs. Gandhi’s death ?

2. Why did the government refuse to take cognisance of the reports of the looting and murders and call in the troops even after alerting them ?

3. Why have a few individual Congress (I) leaders close to the Prime Minister been allowed to arrogate to themselves powers belonging to ministers and officials ?

4. Why was there no joint control room set up and who was responsible for not giving clear and specific instructions to the army on curbing violence and imposing curfew ?

5. Who was responsible for the planned and deliberate police inaction and often active role in inciting the murder and loot ?

6. Who was responsible for the planned and directed arson?

7. Why were highly provocative slogans (Khun ka badla khun-blood for blood) allowed to be broadcast by Doordarshan during the recording of the mourning crowed at Teen Murti ?

8. Why has the Congress (I) not set up an inquiry into the role of its members in the arson and looting ?A recapitulation of the 1984 Delhi carnage in which about 4,000 Sikhs were massacred in three days in the wake of at the time of release of this CD.

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