Excerpts from Khushwant Singh's famous column entitled
"With Malice toward one and all"
dated May 8, 2009.
There are many things in common between the mass violence against the Sikhs in 1984 and massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. If we had done the right thing in 1984, we would not have the same kind of thing repeated in 2002. Let me elucidate.
When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards, a strong anti-Sikh sentiment was prevalent because of the unpunished crimes committed by Bhindranwale’s followers against Hindus.
It only needed a spark to ignite a blazing fire of vengefulness. The government should have been prepared to face the flames of hatred before they became an inferno. Far from being ready to put it down, the government became a party to it. Word came from one among the topmost of leaders: “Teach the Sikhs a lesson.”
The Delhi administration and the police became parties to the looting and killing of innocent Sikhs. Police stations refused to register FIRs, rampaging mobs ignored the so-called curfew, army help was sought for, but when it turned out to be a unit of the sikh infantry, it was ordered back to the barracks.
Men like HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler, named for leading mobs, remained members of the cabinet. Sajjan Kumar was re-elected to the Lok Sabha. To this day very few people have been punished for those heinous crimes. It was inevitable that if murderers could get away so lightly in Delhi, they could get away with such crimes elsewhere in India. So they did in Gujarat.
After the burning of a bogey of the train at Godhra, we are still not certain who set the compartment on fire or the identity of the victims; word went around: “Teach the Muslims a lesson.”