25-Year-Old Massacre Haunts India's Sikhs

November 1, 2009

Author: Harmeet Shah Singh

Source: CNN


Gurdeep Kaur's wrinkled face was wet with tears, as she recounted what she saw a quarter century ago: the killings of 21 of family members.

She recalled how maddened mobs barged into her home and burned alive her husband, two of her sons and a son-in-law because they were Sikhs, easily identified by their beards and turbans wrapped around their uncut hair as their faith required them.

In her neighborhood in the Indian capital of New Delhi, many of her other relatives were among hundreds killed the same way and for the same reason on a single day, November 1, 1984.

Thousands of Sikhs were lynched or burned alive in parts of India in the wake of the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The attacks started in the evening of October 31 that year, when Gandhi was murdered, and went on until November 3. Amnesty International put the number of dead at "at least 3,000 Sikhs."