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Ram Mandir issue has potential of causing holocaust similar to 1984 anti-Sikh riots

By Shantanu Basu*
October 31 was the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi. On this day at 1300 hours I was at Hazrat Nizamuddin Station boarding a special coach attached to the Utkal Express to Jhansi, en route to Lalitpur, an offshoot of Jhansi district. This was for our village visit from LBSNAA, Mussoorie. Crowds had started gathering in the streets of Delhi as the news of the PM's assassination spread like wildfire.
The motley group of civil service probationers, including quite a few Sikh men and women officers came close to a face-to-face encounter with certain death at Gwalior railway station. It was at 1800 hours at Gwalior that AIR finally broadcast the sad news of the assassination. The train had just 5 minutes to leave for Jhansi.
A few of us that had realised the enormity of the problem rushed to the nearest GRP post, introduced ourselves and obtained a few armed guards to accompany us to Jhansi in the coach. The guards told us to down the steel shutters on the windows of the coach and bolted the doors of our coach wherever the train stopped en route.
We landed in Jhansi at around 9 pm to a PAC and Army truck each and a posse of about 20 UP Police in a PAC bus. Part of the group was taken to the Jhansi Circuit House while the rest of us were shepherded to Lalitpur Circuit House and Irrigation Guest House there.
We were further spilt into small groups of 7-8 probationers each and then sent to sub-divisional HQ. In my case, it was a tehsil called Mehroni, about 15-20 km from Lalitpur. We were put up in a Panchayat Hall and a PWD and Irrigation Dept,. rest house there.
In the afternoon of the following day, the thinly-staffed PAC unit informed us to stay indoors as crowds were advancing toward us, having heard that our group had Sikh officers too. The SDM was unnerved and 3-4 of us, including yours truly, had to prop him up and face the mob of about 2000-3000. 
The DM, Noor Mohammad (?) was running from pillar to post finding police reinforcement. Mercifully, our suggestion to the SDM to evacuate the Sikh officers to Lalitpur was heeded and they had left our group by the time the crowd gathered. Only a Sikh lady volunteered to stay back.
In the week that followed, we witnessed unthinkable violence. We saw a Sikh business family dragged out of its house and slaughtered in cold blood, an acrid black smoke hanged heavy over Mehroni as Sikh-owned homes and businesses were mercilessly torched. 
Sikh women were dishonoured and kids had their growing locks violently trimmed or simply torn off their scalps. We helplessly saw elderly Sikhs being dragged out of their houses, dragged by their locks on streets and beaten with iron and violently kicked on their vital organs.
On our return journey, we silently traveled in the escorted bus to Jhansi and boarded the special coach for Delhi. Enroute, we watched the pillage and the stench of death along the 15 km route. It was then the other group joined us and we heard their horrible Jhansi Circuit House being attacked by mobs, Sikh probationers tonsured and much more. On arrival at Nizamuddin, we were provided army escorts to take us to Karim's for a quick meal and then herded on buses for LBSNAA, guarded by four Jeep loads of army men.
It is not possible to recount my experience in further detail here. Suffice it to say the Sikh lady probationer who stayed back with us was identified by the kadas on her wrist. Village women refused to answer her survey questions.
I was ashamed to call myself an Indian. 1984 was the greatest slur on our polity and cast the greatest aspersion on the integrity of our nation. The Indian state had ceased to exist. It cast the gloom of ignominy on an entire community, it forgot humanity even as it dumped non-violence while the Indian National Congress government slept over a giant human tragedy, the biggest since 1947. There was no government worth the name; the only govt was the army lorry bren gun mounted on its back and our heavily-armed army escorts.
The Ram Mandir issue has the potential of causing a similar holocaust. More so, since Ram is not revered evenly by all Hindus. I can only hope that the Hon'ble Supreme Court delivers a reasoned verdict on this contentious issue. I hope my batchmate Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, a Sikh IAS officer, agrees with me on the darkest phase of our post-Independence history.
---
*Indian Audit and Accounts Service (1984) at Ministry of Finance, Government of India. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing your experience its really said what happened after the assassination. But you didn't conclude how ram temple issue will lead to a similar circumstances? If anything it was blog of recounting your experiences during the riots

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