Saturday, November 01, 2014

Why is Modi silent on a new investigation of 1984 anti-Sikh genocide, asks US foreign affairs professional

By Our Representative
A prominent Indian American foreign policy expert, who has been professional staff member for South Asian Policy, US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has wondered why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi “holding back accountability” for the anti-Sikh genocide of 1984. One who personally suffered during the holocaust as a small child, Jasmeet K Ahuja suggests Modi’s “silence” is already being interpreted as his "strategic necessity": “After all, his demanding a new investigation of 1984 would only embolden Congress Party officials to do the same for the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat. It would be the pot calling the kettle black”, she underlines.
Ahuja has played an important role in shaping US' South Asia policy. She was instrumental in drafting of the Pakistan Enduring Assistance Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2009, which passed the House of Representatives, and the US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act of 2008, signed by the President. Prior to joining the House, she served in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the US Department of State, where "managed" arms sales and defense trade for South Asia, including the sale of F-16s to Pakistan and C-130Js to India.
Writing in “Washington Post”, Ahuja -- a lawyer and advisory board member of the US-based Sikh Coalition --  said, Modi promised “a new era for India, and especially for Sikhs... He made many overtures to the almost 20 million-strong population before the elections.” During the campaign, Modi became the first major Indian leader to “call the events of November 1984 what they were -- a genocide -- rather than euphemistically characterize them as mere ‘riots’.” His campaign promised a new investigation of the 1984 bloodshed. As a result, he won some 30 percent of the Sikh vote, almost four times the Congress Party candidate.”
Then, Modi’s “valedictory speech in New York’s Madison Square Garden last month praised Sikhs for their leadership in the fight for an independent India. Just this week, Modi added that the slaughter was a a dagger through India’s chest’.” But the influential NRI lawyer feels, “as prime minister, Modi has not followed through. Although his government upped the compensation for the next of kin of 1984 victims this week -- a very welcome development -- he has been tight-lipped in seeking justice for his Sikh countryman with the complicity of a government he now leads.”
“For Sikh victims of the 1984 'riots', justice and due process are little more than empty rhetoric. Modi, the leader of a Hindu nationalist party, has said that all citizens deserve to be treated as equal participants in a country founded on the democratic values and rule of law. If he wants to show his commitment to that idea, he should convene the special investigation he promised -- now. Let the evidence speak for itself, no matter which senior government official’s doorstep it may lead us to. Thirty years is a long time to wait. But it is never too late for justice”, she insists.

"Personal" trauma

Pointing towards how the trauma of the violence caused wasn’t just national; it was personal, Ahuja said, she was only 3 years old and she recalled how her grandmother doggedly crossed her arms after hanging up the phone on their neighbour. “She believed that our Sikh faith, founded on selfless service and courage, demanded that we stand up for ourselves. Even after a motorcyclist stopped at our gate and marked an “X”on the metal beams, confirming our address against a government voter registry, she wouldn’t abandon her home”, she recalls.
“Soon, shrieks echoed down our street as the Sikh taxi stand on the corner exploded. Still, my grandmother refused to flee. Only when a mob appeared outside our house chanting ‘Blood for blood!’did she finally surrender to my parents’ pleas. We snuck out through the back door as the mob charged through our front gate. I remember my father holding me in his arms, clutching our American passports in his left hand. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen him cry”, she said.
“A courageous Hindu family across the alley provided us shelter. Throughout the city, Sikh men were being hacked to death in front of their wives and children. At the peak of the violence, one Sikh was being killed every minute in the capital”, Ahuja points out, adding, “The balcony afforded us a horrific sight of my grandparents’ house below: their car and motorcycle ablaze, the broken windows hinting at the devastation within. After five long days, our neighbors connected us to a high-ranking police official visiting from another state; he gave us an escort to the airport, where, on the night of November 6, we flew back to California.”

1 comment:

Sanjay Sinha said...

The day Congress party goons under PM Rajiv Gandhi murdered thousands of innocent Sikhs and with that democracy in Delhi and again rode to power by sympathy wave manufactured by showing his mothers dead body.