24 September, 2020

‘Their Demeanour Was Frighteningly Casual’

‘Their Demeanour Was Frighteningly Casual’

Ashok Jaitly, an IAS officer posted in Delhi in November 1984, was one of the rare officers to testify against the police and political workers for their role in the anti-Sikh riots:

I was on leave around the time Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. All through October 31, we heard reports of Congress Seva Dal workers coming out on the streets shouting slogans like khoon ka badla khoon se lenge; we heard reports of mobs attacking Sikhs. That evening, my then wife Jaya and I drove down Lodhi Road to see gangs pulling Sikhs out of buses. Around Defence Colony, we found a Sikh on a motorcycle, his old father hanging on the pillion. Rather than letting them risk their lives, we convinced them to come home with us. I remember how shaken up the old Sardar was.

On the morning of November 1, a number of us got together around Lajpat Nagar. While marching for peace, we passed a gurudwara to see hoodlums standing outside with trishuls in their hands, wearing saffron headgear. Inside, the scared Sikhs were holding...



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