Diwali, the festival of lights, is famously associated with the sound of fireworks and bright illuminations, commemorating the victory of 'good over evil.' The lighting of lamps and grand celebrations marks even the Sikh festival of Bandhi Chor Diwas, which is celebrated on the same day as Diwali. However Diwali this year, which falls on the 3rd November, will be a somber event for many Sikhs across the world.
This is because the festival of lights this year coincides with one of the darkest chapters of Sikh history. It was between the 31st October and 3rd November in 1984, that Sikhs in Delhi and other various parts of India were systematically targeted and massacred on a large scale. According to the even most conservative estimates, 8,000 Sikhs were killed over the four-day period, out of which 3,000 were in the capital city alone. These mass killings were so horrific, they came to be known as the Kristallnacht of India's Sikhs.
However nearly three decades later, those guilty of mass murder still roam free, many of who are in high and influential positions. The 2011 WikiLeaks cable leaks revealed that the United States was convinced of the complicity of the then Indian government, calling it "one of the saddest and darkest moments in recent Indian history" and had quoted a commission report which found the Indian government in power at the time responsible "for not just allowing them to happen, but actively organising the pogroms." Even more worrying is the complicity shown by the investigating agencies responsible for carrying out the investigations into the killings. Amnesty International had gone onto the record to state that the agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's premier law enforcement agency, had "failed to carry out the most cursory of tasks - including eyewitness and survivor statements."
Of course many have since then asked the Sikh community to forget the mass killings and "move on." Forgetting it seems is better then explaining why the friendly neighbour turned into monster, the politicians into mob leaders and the government institutions closed their doors on those desperate for their help.
Neighbours look out for neighbours but during the Delhi Massacres, all neighbourly love was forgotten. Neighbours joined in the mobs to first kill the men and the children in the most gruesome way possible by putting tires around their necks and burning them alive. The Sikh males died trying to protect their families. With no one to protect them the females, regardless of age, were gang raped. The clothes worn were torn to shreds and the clothes in the houses burned, leaving the women helpless and naked to wander. The people, with whom the Sikhs had joined together with to celebrate holidays and other aspects of life, were the same that were attacking them. With Sikhs killed or in hiding, the neighbours and other members of the mob looted the households. Sikhs were left with nothing, not even their dignity.
The hospitals and the doctors broke their oath by not helping save lives. The popular method of attacking the Sikhs was burning tires and the hospitals closed all burn units. There was no hope for survival. Those that had sworn to help all turned their backs on one group of citizens, the Sikhs.
The neighbours turned into foes, the politicians into opportunists and the government agencies forgot their vows yet seeking justice is seen as seeking trouble. They are not asked to move on, to forget because Sikhs are in the wrong. They are asked to move on because they are asking questions, and no one has answers. I implore everybody to read the book 'I accuse' authored by a Anti-Sikh massacre survivor Jarnail Singh, to better understand what happened in 1984 and then tell me, how does one move on from a event like that?