People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 34

August 21, 2005

 RSS And The 1984 Pogrom


A DOCUMENT on the massacre of Sikhs in 1984, authored by a veteran leader of the RSS, Nanaji Deshmukh, entitled ‘Moments of Soul Searching’, and published in the Hindi journal Pratipaksh (of which George Fernandes has been the proprietor-editor), highlights the attitude of the RSS in 1984. It shows that apart from the Congress cadres, communal forces aligned with the RSS also played a role in the killings and destruction of property of the Sikhs.


In this document, distributed by him among many prominent politicians, the massacre of Sikhs is justified as a spontaneous outburst of anger by them, very much in the same way as Rajiv Gandhi did, and it is implied that the Sikhs themselves invited these attacks through Indira Gandhi’s murder. The document says:


"…Indira Gandhi ultimately did secure a permanent place at the doorstep of History as a great martyr. With her dynamism born out of her fearlessness and dexterity, she was able to take the country forward like a colossus for over a decade…she alone had the ability to run the decadent political system of our corrupt and divided society…


…This cowardly and treacherous act of killing not only ended the life of a great leader but also killed, in the name of the Panth, the mutual faith of humanity. The explosion of sudden arson and violent hysteria throughout the country was probably a directionless and improper expression of the hurt, anger and feeling of loss… (and) was a result of the poisonous campaign of separatism, antagonism and violence conducted over the past three years, in which hundreds of innocents had to lose their lives, and the sanctity of religious places was destroyed.


…This campaign assumed an ominous pace after the painful army action in June which in the eyes of most of the people of this country had become necessary to protect the sanctity of religious places (reference to Operation Bluestar, Golden Temple).


…Barring a few exceptions, the Sikh community observed silence for a long time on the barbaric massacres and heinous killing of people, but they condemned the long pending Army action with anger and dangerous explosion…Open display of such feelings played a special role in increasing distrust and alienation between Sikhs and the rest of Indians…(The massacre) was a most explosive situation which needed the utmost patient and skilful conduct on behalf of our Sikh brothers… (After the killing of Gandhi)…we also suffered the sudden eruption of hysteria…of misguided people…I feel proud of those Hindu brothers who protected the lives and property of troubled Sikhs…these things have increased the faith in natural goodness of human behaviour and particularly faith in Hindu nature…I am also worried at the Sikh reaction in such a delicate and explosive situation…


…I hope that…my Sikh brothers will also show the above referred patience and tolerance (the reference is to the so-called tolerance on the part of the RSS in the wake of the Gandhi murder). But I am deeply pained to know that rather than displaying such tolerance and patience at some places they have retaliated against the crowd with arms…


…It is time that our Sikh brothers search their hearts...removal of false descriptions (he means of themselves as a totally separate religion and tradition) is necessary to bridge the gulf of distrust and alienation between two communities of similar destiny….”


The document ends with a call to bless and cooperate with Rajiv Gandhi, and goes on to praise his qualities.


(These extracts from the document can be accessed on the Internet at the South Asian Citizens’ Web archives)