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Declassify 1984 Papers

  • 05 Nov, 2023

Sikhs demand declassification of papers relating to events of 1984

Also want setting up of the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ to bring final closure to the matter

The Rising Panjab Bureau

The demand by Rajya Sabha MP Vikramjit Singh Sahney to declassify the papers and records relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that took place across India after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has brought in focus again the need to bring a closure on the sequence of events of the year 1984 when the Indian Army had to be sent into Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) to flush out the terrorists who had waged a war against the State of India.  The government action at the instructions of Indira Gandhi led to a long cycle of violence.  It was in the year 1984 itself that Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards to ‘revenge’ the army action in the Golden Temple.  The assassination led to killings of thousands of Sikhs across India.  The brutal killings, rapes of Sikh women, burning of their properties etc went on for almost three days until the army was called in to control the situation.  Several thousands, including security forces personnel, civilians and terrorists got killed in Punjab following this.  The mayhem went on till K.P.S.Gill took over the reins of Punjab as the Director General of Police under Chief Minister Beant Singh and could bring the situation under control after killing of most terrorists.

Thirty nine years later, families of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence still await justice as many of the culprits of the massacre still roam free.  Some of the suspects are well-known political figures.  Thousands of families who lost their breadwinners continue to suffer from poverty and ignominy even as the current BJP government in India did take some steps to redress their grievances by giving Rs.5 lakh to families of each who were killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh violence.  The government also reopened hundreds of cases against scores of suspects and a few of the accused including former MP Sajjan Kumar of the Congress Party were put in the jail after their conviction.

Demands to declassify the records pertaining to the whole issue have been made by many people so that ‘who did what and why’ could be known to one and all with at least some authenticity.  There is almost a unanimity that the genesis to the problem lies in the one-upmanship by the Congress Party to counter the Shiromani Akali Dal at that time.  The man that the Congress planted against the Akali Dal later became so powerful and dreadful that the government had to send the Indian Army in the Golden Temple to flush him and other terrorists out.  The move called “Operation Blue Star” resulted in the death of hundreds on both side.

Many have also demanded to set up a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to unravel the whole truth behind what all happened in 1984 that led to these unfortunate incidents.  In the year 2022, BJP spokesperson RP Singh in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanded setting up of a Truth Commission and declassification of records so that the ‘conspiracy’ could be exposed to the public.  “....Justice has not been fully delivered. Many more like Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath still roam free. It has been known earlier and now has further been authenticated by former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer, GBS Sidhu in his book “The Khalistan Conspiracy”, conspiracies behind Operation Blue Star and the Sikh carnage in Delhi were hatched much before the time of its execution and both were planned keeping in mind the 1985 general elections,” RP Singh said in his said letter to the Home Minister.  GBS Sidhu in his book has also echoed the demand of setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Since the BJP government is considered to be considerate to the genuine demands of Sikhs, it should rise to occasion to make amends with a view to proving his real intentions in addressing and resolving the long-pending issues concerning Punjab and Sikhs.  It is therefore high time that after the lapse of 39 years, the government seriously considers setting up of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” in line with what some other countries including South Africa and Sri Lanka did.

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