October 31, 2020 (New York, NY) -- Thirty-six years ago, from October 31 to November 3, 1984, thousands of Sikhs were hunted and murdered by government-orchestrated mobs throughout India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Along with Sikhs around the world, the Sikh Coalition marks this solemn occasion as a turning point in our history.
Earlier this year, we also marked the 36th anniversary of the Indian Army’s June 1984 assault on Darbar Sahib and dozens of other gurdwaras throughout Punjab. Code-named by the Indian government Operation Bluestar, this event claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Sikhs.
As we recognize the 36th anniversary of these atrocities, it is important to understand the deep history of these events and the issues of state repression and impunity that are still relevant today. It is estimated that tens of thousands of Sikhs were killed starting in 1984 and continuing into the 1990s. According to eyewitnesses and human rights activists, the killings were organized by government officials and facilitated by police officials. Unfortunately, 36 years later, the Indian government continues to deny appropriate justice to the victims and survivors of the massacres.
We cannot achieve accountability without continuing to find ways to document and share the history of what happened during and after 1984 and the stories of those who experienced it all first-hand. The Sikh Coalition is proud to stand with organizations like Ensaaf and 1984 Living History Project who work to document this history. Here are some additional resources about the events of 1984, the decade of disappearances and extrajudicial executions afterward, and the effects of both on the collective Sikh diaspora:
Videos and Personal Accounts
1984 Living History Project
Survivor Interviews, Days After November 1984
Mapping Crimes Against Humanity
A Witness Among the Bodies
Mapping June 1984
The Last Killing
Firsthand Account of Sawinder Singh
Sikh Genocide Project
Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
The Sikh Coalition remains committed to raising awareness about anti-Sikh violence in India and supporting efforts to promote justice and accountability. Our history is our responsibility. It is also our responsibility to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself with our community or any other community.