Young Activists Join Survivors of 1984 Sikh Massacre to Continue Fight for Justice
India: 31 January 2017 10:57 am
Young activists joined survivors of the 1984 Sikh massacre and other civil society leaders to discuss the lessons learnt from the long and arduous struggle for justice and accountability for the crimes of committed during the 1984 Sikh massacre.
The discussions were part of Youth Conference 2017, a new initiative by Amnesty International India to mobilise wider support for truth and accountability movements in India. This conference was aimed at raising awareness among the youth regarding the 1984 Sikh massacre as well as encouraging them to campaign for such causes. This conference comes days ahead of the next reporting deadline of the Union government-appointed Special Investigations Team tasked with reinvestigated closed cases related to the massacre.
This conference hosted a series of panels discussing issues ranging from politics and mob mentality, role of people’s movements and state accountability. The young activists who are all college students shared their views about a human rights tragedy that took place before they were born but has had such a huge impact on Indian politics.
“The young must realise that the future will be theirs fully only when the past has been put behind in a just and transparent way,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.
Exploring the relation between politics and mob violence, Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of the Caravan, said: “The ruling party workers mobilised all available resources to create a climate of fear and present the entire Sikh community as the enemy. This instigation of the mob for targeted killing has been since imbibed and institutionalised by other political forces in India.”
Talking about state accountability, Amnesty International India campaigner Sanam Sutirath Wazir said, “the Youth Conference is an effort to encourage the young people to talk about the massacre. It is also to remind the SIT that after three extensions, it must present its findings.”
“Justice denied in one instance becomes the basis for injustice in other instances. We have to fight against the normalisation of injustice. It is a matter of shame that no one has been held accountable for the anti-Sikh pogrom. The basis of a democracy is justice and love, not hatred and impunity,” said student activist Shehla Rashid.
Avijit Singh, a student panelist at the conference said, “We must come together in large numbers to demand justice for the 1984 Sikh massacre victims. This cannot be simply forgotten.” said.
The Youth Conference stands as a reminder to our political leaders that not only the survivors of the massacre but also young leaders and civil society demand that justice be served at the earliest.
Amnesty International India launched its 1984 Sikh massacre campaign in October 2014 and since then over six lakh people from across India have supported and joined this campaign. Last year, Amnesty International India launched Conversations’ 84, a series of talks in colleges across Delhi, focused on the human rights violations committed during the 1984 Sikh massacre.
At least 3,000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, in 1984 over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Yet only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice.
The Delhi Police closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacres, citing lack of evidence. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have been punished.