1984 and the November Sikh riots in pictures - Why this remains an unhealed wound

Thousands were killed as the administration watched. Eleven inquiry panels and 34 years later, the wait for justice continues.

 |  -minute read |   01-11-2018
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Thirty four years. 3,000 victims. Far too few convictions.

As India marks yet another anniversary of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence that broke out a day after then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, here are 10 India Today pictures that revisit the horror that unfolded on the streets of Delhi, and in other cities of India.

Indira Gandhin was assassinated on October 31. By the morning of November 1, murderous mobs were oit on the streets of Delhi.  Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31. By the morning of November 1, murderous mobs were out on the streets of Delhi. (Photo: India Today Archives)

The mobs were armed with voters', ration card lists, even school registration forms to identify Sikh household. Eyewitnesses have claimed these were distributed by Congress party leaders. The mobs were armed with voters' lists, ration card lists, even school registration forms to identify Sikh households. Eyewitnesses have claimed these were distributed by Congress party leaders. (Photo: India Today Archives)

Shops and houses belonging to Sikhs were targetted, looted, and burnt. Shops and houses belonging to Sikhs were targetted, looted and burnt. (Photo: India Today Archives)

Several inquiry commissions set up later found that the police did not act against the rioters. In some cases, even the cops joined in the violence. The Army was called in, but not allowed to do much. Several inquiry commissions set up later found that the police did not act against the rioters. In some cases, even the cops joined in the violence. The Army was called in, but not allowed to do much. (Photo: India Today Archives)

Thousands of Sikhs took shelter at railway stations, makeshift relief camps, gurdwaaras. Even though their homes were burnt, the government soon made them vacate relief camps, to give the impression that 'normalcy' had been restored.  Thousands of Sikhs took shelter at railway stations, makeshift relief camps, gurudwaras. Even though their homes were burnt, the government soon made them vacate relief camps, to give the impression that 'normalcy' had been restored. (Photo: India Today Archives)

Most of those killed belonged to poorer sections of the society, leaving behind broken families with no means of livelihood. Most of those killed belonged to poorer sections of society, leaving behind broken families with no means of livelihood. (Photo: India Today Archives)In most cases, the government did not provide alternative homes to victims. They were forced to go back living next to the very neighbours who had attacked them.In most cases, the government did not provide alternative homes to victims. They were forced to go back and live next to the very neighbours who had attacked them. (Photo: India Today Archives)

The violence went on for several days. In its aftermath, it left charred homes and broken families. The violence went on for several days. In its aftermath, it left charred homes and devastated families. (Photo: India Today Archives)

Vibha Sethi lost her husband and son in the riots. She saw her husband attacked with crowbars. When she lay on his body to protect him, she was beaten too. Vibha Sethi lost her husband and son in the riots. She saw her husband attacked with crowbars. When she lay on his body to protect him, she was beaten too. (Photo: India Today Archives)

Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tyler were named by eyewitnesses as being involved in the violence. Several inquiry commissions named them. Neither, however, has been convicted. Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tyler were named by eyewitnesses as being involved in the violence. Several inquiry commissions named them. Neither has been convicted. (Photo: India Today Archives)

These pictures are only a small glimpse into the terribe tragedy that was 1984. 

What cannot be documented in pictures, however, is the pain the survivors live with — and the shame that the perpetrators of these murders, lootings and burnings are yet to be brought to book.  

Also read: 33 years on, the ghosts of 1984 anti-Sikh riots refuse to disappear

 

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