Frontline article on Nanavati Commission Report

September 21, 2005 | Comments Off on Frontline article on Nanavati Commission Report

A recent article in Frontline discusses the reaction of the survivors of the 1984 pogroms to the Nanavati Report, also mentioning ENSAAF.

Frontline article observes that the Nanavati Commission report has
recast the 1984 massacres in a way that is palatable to the state. This
cover-up by the state and its failure to acknowledge its atrocities
have had a lasting impact on the victims of the pogroms. 

refusing to file FIRs and aiding the attackers, the police were
complicit in the violence. This left the victims with nowhere
to turn for protection, and ensured impunity for many perpetrators of
the violence.

complicity of the police was crucial to the construction of an official
discourse. The police played a vital role in the cover-up by refusing
to record many testimonies. By refusing even to examine affidavits
filed on the basis of personal testimonies and eyewitness accounts, the
state delegitimised the Sikh voice – deeming it unreliable and
unimportant. By refusing to act against errant police personnel on the
grounds that they have retired, the state indicated that it was ready
to condone violence, provided that it was directed against an
appropriate community at an appropriate time.

The article also mentions the ENSAAF report Twenty Years of Impunity
and quotes ENSAAF executive director Jaskaran Kaur’s response to the
state’s refusal to bring police officers to justice based on the fact
that they are retired:

[the government] is limiting itself to prosecutions based on
dereliction of duty. I don’t see how one’s retirement will influence
whether he is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, or murder
itself. That has nothing to do with your tenure in office.”

1984 pogroms continue to affect the Sikh community in the form
of poverty, unemployment, and addiction. The colony of Tilak
Vihar, where many of the victims relocated, is one example of the
lasting psychological and economic effects of the pogroms. There, the
poverty of Sikh families makes it difficult for their children to
attend school, which results in unemployment, among other problems.
Chamni Kaur, a resident, says:

It is like we’re being killed a second time.

the state continues to try to deny the facts of the pogroms, its
legacy lives on in the memories and daily lives of its victims and
their families. The article notes:

The only way to close chapters truly is to ensure that justice is served, and visibly so.

offers other testimonies of survivors living in Tilak
Vihar, in its movie-in-progress Widow Colony.  View a preview here.


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