Justice for the survivors of the 1984 Sikh massacre
In November 1984, at least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Amnesty International was one of the first strong international condemning voice when the massacre took place in 1984.
Sikh men were dragged out of their homes by mobs and shot dead. Others were hacked to death, or doused with petrol and burned alive. Many Sikh women were raped. Commissions of inquiry reported that political leaders were involved in instigating perpetrators, and the police simply turned a blind eye to the carnage.
The massacres of 1984 were a national disgrace. And they were followed by another: 30 years of impunity.
Three decades after the massacres, only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice. In many cases, investigations had not been completed even after 30 years. Thousands of victims and survivors continue to wait for justice and closure.
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.
The victims and survivors of the 1984 massacres have a right to justice and remedy. And it is time this right was respected.
- Demand that the Government of India reopens every one of the cases closed by the Delhi police.
- Demand that an independent team reinvestigates the cases, and authorities bring to justice all those responsible for the massacres – whether they are political leaders, police or government officials.
- Demand justice for 1984.
What Did Amnesty Do?
In 2014 November Amnesty International India marked the 30th anniversary of the massacre by launching a campaign to bring the issue back into limelight and build pressure on the current government to reopen closed cases and files and ensure justice for the families of the victims. 6 lakhs people supported our campaign.
These petitions were sent to the Law Minister and the Home Minister. The Government of India indirectly acknowledged the question of setting up an independent body to reinvestigate the cases from the massacre and the G.P Mathur Committee was set up to make a decision on the same. The G.P Mathur committee recommended the setting up of a Special Investigation Team.
The SIT was formed in February, 2015 by the Ministry of Home Affairs. A SIT (Special Investigation team) mandated to file charge sheets, was set up by the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs). However, over two years and three term extensions later, the SIT finally stated in 2017 that it had closed 241 cases and filed charges in just 12 cases. In August, the Supreme Court set up a panel comprising two former judges to examine the SIT’s decisions to close cases.
We propose to keep the pressure alive till the government takes concrete steps to reopen the closed and cancelled cases. Through public pressure, consolidation of evidence, influencer advocacy and media trials the goal of the project is to make it one of the priority issues for the government.
This is the opportune time to strengthen the campaign as we have the last generation of eye witnesses for the massacre alive now. After their demise there will be no first person account of the mayhem.