Each year, the end of October is met with heavy hearts for Sikhs around the world, as we commemorate the organized genocide against Sikhs in Delhi and across India in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh shot the Indian Prime Minister dead in retaliation to her ordering of the attack on Sikhism’s central shrine, the Darbar Sahib (aka the Golden Temple) only six months before, which too took the lives of thousands of innocent Sikhs.
After her assassination, thousands of Sikhs were attacked, butchered, raped and burned alive over the course of several days by organized mobs before complicit law enforcement took any action to protect the victims. State officials actively participated or allowed the killing to continue, and were never held to account. To date, barely any justice has been enacted by the State of India in response to the killing, leaving behind a gaping wound that has been ignored, covered up, and glaringly unacknowledged even until this day.
As a child far removed from the carnage that took place in India, the events of 1984 had a strong influence on my life, and the anniversary of the Sikh genocide brings with it a period of reflection and consideration. Almost thirty years since the killing spree, justice has, for the most part, long escaped the grasp of the many victims who survived. The widows and orphans remain marginalized, and their voices silenced. The questions remain for many of us: what is to be done today for those victims, and how may we ensure that this never happens again?
Every year, the National Sikh Youth Federation, based in the UK, distributes daily summaries on social media of what occurred each day during the genocide. These images are among the least disturbing of those available on the internet and are reproduced below.