In the ongoing Lok Sabha Election season, the issue of genocide of the Sikh community in 1984, infamously justified by Rajiv Gandhi became the central point of discourse. However, across history there are many examples of how the cynical communal politics of the Congress has impacted India’s social fabric. While there can be a long list of such incidents, here are just three examples.
- The Nellie Massacre of Muslims, 1983
- The Sikh Genocide, 1984
- The Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, 1989-1990
The Nellie Massacre of Muslims, 1983
The February of 1983 in Assam was fearsome. More than 2,000 Muslims were massacred in a single day at a place called Nellie in Assam. Unofficial figures put numbers close to 5,000 people.
The then Inspector General of Police, Assam, KPS Gill, who is also known for his role in restoring law and order to Punjab in the aftermath of operation Blue Star, also said that holding elections in 1983 in Assam was a mistake. The violence was seen as fall out of the controversial decision of holding state elections in 1983 even when the state was witnessing the agitation against the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Clearly then, the trigger to this violence was Congress’s politics of pitting the communities against each other.
Stewart Slavin in UPI reported, “Mrs. Gandhi returned to New Delhi to face opposition accusations that her refusal to strip residential and voting rights from an estimated 4 million immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh had triggered the violence.” It has been further reported that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi shifted the blame on opposition parties, rather than accepting responsibility for something that happened under her and her party’s watch.
The Sikh Genocide, 1984
After the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, hell was unleashed on the Sikh community in the streets of Delhi by the Congress party’s leaders and workers. A lot has already been documented about Sikh pogrom of 1984. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Instead of responding to such blood-bath of Indian citizens, Rajiv Gandhi had infamously remarked on Congress’s anti-Sikh violence with “But, when a big tree falls, the earth shakes a bit”.
Source: Indian Express
An India Today story quoting Tavleen Singh from her book Durbar says, “In dealing with the aftermath of the anti-Sikh massacres in Delhi after Indira’s assassination in 1984, Rajiv was quite willing to pander to the basest instincts of those who wanted the Sikhs to be ‘taught a lesson’.” Thus, there is no doubt that Congress top leadership itself was involved in this one gruesome crime.
Here is the timeline of the events of 1984 Sikh pogrom and how the justice is being served.
The Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, 1989-1990
The Kashmiri Pandits were made refugees in their own country. The worst example of cynical and communal politics of the Congress Party was seen when Kashmiri Pandits had to leave their homes in Kashmir valley and migrate to other places in for the safety. This exodus happened in late 1989 and early 1990, especially on long chilly night of January 19, 1990.
A retired Col (Dr) Tej Kumar Tikoo in an article, quotes the former Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Shri M M Khajooria who had observed, “The mischief of the summer of 1989 started with serving notice to the prominent members of the minority community to quit Kashmir.
The letter said, ‘We order you to leave Kashmir immediately, otherwise your children will be harmed- we are not scaring you but this land is only for Muslims, and is the land of Allah. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here’. The threatening note ended with a warning, ‘If you do obey, we will start with your children. Kashmir Liberation, Zindabad.”
According to various reports, many were killed, burnt, and brutalised in the manner that they had to run from their homes. Their women were reportedly raped by radical fanatics in the valley. Millions became homeless overnight.
Source: India Today Magazine
Though the roots of the problem can be traced back to the faulty and short-sighted policies of the first Prime Minister of India, the problem was compounded by the Nehru-Gandhi and Abdullah families. Tavleen Singh in her book ‘Durbar’ said, Indira Gandhi toppled the Farooq Abdullah government and went on to install G.M. Shah, brother in law of Farooq Abdullah, in Jammu & Kashmir in 1983. She further said Rajiv complicated things further by re-installing Farooq in 1987, thus missing the last chance to solve J&K problem.
According to an India Today story published in 1988 said, local people in J&K had the perception of wide-scale rigging in the elections of 1987. It is this manipulation which led to much wider discontent across the state which was further fueled by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. And, radicalism in the state resulted in the massacre and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
The above three accounts of the gory killings of the people across faiths shows that the cynical communal politics of the Congress Party didn’t spare anyone.