Date: 8/27/2005


KULDIP NAYAR on the Nehru-Gandhi sponsored Sikh massacre;/// Nanavati says there is evidence to show that on October 31, 1984, the day Mrs Gandhi was killed, "either meetings were held or the persons who could organise attacks were contacted and were given instructions to kill Sikhs and loot their houses and shops." (Indian Express, 24th August 2005) /// =========================/// Who are the guilty? /// KULDIP NAYAR Thursday August 11, 2005 /// Source : Indian Express/// I find that the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission Report on the 1984 ti-Sikh riots is not a fair document. The judge traces events more or less accurately, yet he does not come to the obvious conclusion. /// It is as if he is willing to strike but is afraid to wound. He rejects the argument that what happened was "merely a spontaneous reaction of the angry public" after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh guards. He goes as far as to say: "The systematic manner" in which the Sikhs were killed indicated that "the attacks on them were organised". But he holds back when, as a judge, he should have gone further to probe who organised these systematic attacks. /// Again, Nanavati says there is evidence to show that on October 31, 1984, the day Mrs Gandhi was killed, "either meetings were held or the persons who could organise attacks were contacted and were given instructions to kill Sikhs and loot their houses and shops." Who issued these instructions because the order to kill is a serious criminal offence? Nanavati also says that attacks were made "without much fear of the police, almost suggesting that they were assured that they would not be harmed while committing those acts and even thereafter." These were categorical assurances. No ordinary person could give them. They must have come from a person or persons of high political standing or who had governmental clout. /// On that command, hundreds of people went to the streets of Delhi with weapons and inflammable material like kerosene oil, petrol and white powder. According to the Nanavati report, "the male members of Sikh community were taken out of their houses. They were beaten first and then burnt alive in a systematic manner. In some cases tyres were put around their necks and then they were set on fire by pouring kerosene oil or petrol over them." Slogans like khoon ka badle khoon se lenge were raised by the mob. /// Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Dharam Dutt Shastri, named by Nanavati, could only be operators. At worst, they could have conveyed instructions. But who gave the instructions? Nanavati says that the plan was hatched on November 1, after the assassination of Mrs Gandhi. Who were the ones who did it? Where did they gather to hatch the plan? Lieutenant Governor P.G. Gavai and the Police Commissioner P.C. Tandon were clueless. They could not have conspired when they were sent home. Who were these shadowy figures, behind-the-scenes, confident that their instructions would be carried out? /// I have had occasion to talk to Nanavati after the submission of the Report. He said that he was conscious of its "limitations". To pick up the threads of a massacre of this kind, almost two decades after the event, is not easy. Many people had died in the meantime and the courts had given their verdicts on several cases. Still he had done his best. As he observed: "I have not tried to whitewash anything. /// The report has to be read in its entirety to know where the blame lay." /// Shaken by the instances of planned and deliberate rioting, Nanavati seemed to almost throw up his hands in despair. As he put it, "Anything can happen anywhere at any time in the country because politicians have no value system to follow and the police have no limits in behaviour or action." His condemnation of politicians is, indeed, scathing. /// Nanavati saw no difference between the way and the pattern in which the rioting, killing and looting were organised in Delhi and in Gujarat. "In the first, the Sikhs were the victims and in the second, the Muslims," he said. In both instances, he found plenty of evidence to infer that some politicians instigated the whole thing and that the authorities, particularly the police, looked the other way when the crimes were committed./// I wish the Nanavati Commission had gone beyond the rioting. I had something else in mind when I raised the demand in the Rajya Sabha for a Commission. I had wanted something along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the South African government to go over the period of apartheid. The Whites were asked to confess what they did and were promised that no action would be taken against them. Many came forward and told the truth. For example, one said that he tried to kill Nelson Mandela. /// Had the government followed this model, some politicians and officials may have come forward to tell the truth. We still do not know who planned these riots, and why. The Sikhs are so close to Hindus and have blood ties with them. Even after several inquiry reports we are nowhere near the truth. The Commission's terms of reference should have been different. No one expected any new evidence or anything clinching to emerge in terms of getting at the guilty. /// It seems, Nanavati himself was also for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said that he had tried to pursue the same path but did not succeed in his efforts. "I asked many witnesses and others who appeared before me to rise above politics. But it looks as if I did not succeed." For example, the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, he pointed out, was keen on finding the culprits and hanging them. It was not willing to condone their guilt, even if they were to come out with the truth./// Whatever the views of an organisation or individual, we have the right to know who planned "the organised killing" and how the government and the ruling party came to be linked with the planning and execution of mass murders. Who are the guilty? /// ...............................000000000