This widow, a former resident of Kartarnagar (trans-Yamuna area),
related that their house was looted and burnt by a mob on 2 November
1984. Her husband and two sons, one married only four months ago,
were dragged out of the house and mercilessly beaten. Thereafter,
kerosene was poured over the three men and they were set alight. No
police or army was in evidence at the time. She could, she said, identify
the person who killed her husband. Though she did not know his name.
She was definite about the name of his father: a weaver of the area.
She had originally come from Rawalpindi at the time of Partition.
This was her second nightmarish experience of mob fury during which
she had lost everything, including three male members of her family.
She was accompanied by a completely dazed girl, hardly 16 years old,
widow of her recently-married and recently-butchered son. This young
girl sat through her mother-in-law's harrowing testimony shedding
silent tears of grief and despair.
According to this widow, mobs came to her neighborhood at about
9 am on 1 November and began stoning Sikh houses in the vicinity.
Sikhs who happened to be out were advised by the police to return
home and stay indoors. They followed this advice and locked themselves
inside their homes. Soon after, the crowds returned and started
breaking into individual Sikh homes. The men were dragged out, beaten
badly and burnt alive. Then the houses were systematically looted
and most of them set on fire. The Sikh residents of the area owned
their homes. According to this woman's estimate there were approximately
35 to 40 Sikh homes in the area, almost all of which had been destroyed
and 55 men brutally murdered. Only five men from the area survive,
owing their escape to their absence from home for one reason or
Case 3: Burning of Khalsa
Middle School Sarojini Nagar.
On the afternoon of 1 November, at about 3.30 or 4 pm, a mob of
about 250-300 men came to the school which has 525 pupils of whom
65% are non-Sikhs. The mob first set fire to the tents and the school
desks. Thereafter, they demolished the boundary wall of the school.
They then entered the building and broke open the steel cupboards
and looted them. They stole the school typewriter, instruments belonging
to the school band, utensils, etc. Two desks and seven steel cupboards
were seen being taken away. They destroyed the library and scientific
equipment in the laboratory. The school building was burnt as also
the Headmaster's scooter.
There were seven or eight policemen standing
by who witnessed the mob's activities but did nothing to stop them.
When asked to prevent the mob from damaging the school, they said
that they could do nothing. No arrests are reported to have been
made nor has any other action been taken. The FIR was lodged on
7 or 8 November. The Sikh SHO of the police station, located within
sight of the school, is understood to be a relative of a Congress-I
leader. He is said to have been beaten up on 31 October while in
uniform, and was not to be seen (he was either in hiding or under
orders--the witness could not say) from 31 October to 2 November.
It was further conveyed to the Commission that even though-the school
imparts free education and is in receipt of a Government grant,
no repairs of any nature had begun as on 18 December 1984. Neither
was any furniture nor other equipment--not even books and stationery--provided.
A social worker informed the Commission that he had been associated
with the Shakkarpur Camp as a voluntary relief worker since 6 November.
The camp had been set up on 3 November and the administration had
forcibly closed it on 13 November. When asked how it had been 'forcibly
closed' down, he replied that the water supply had been cut off.
He then asked the authorities how they would assist the inmates
to return to their original homes and was told that they would be
returned in the same way by which they had been brought to the camp!
A survivor from Mangolpuri, who had been operating his own scooter-rickshaw
in shifts jointly with his brother, had been brought to a relief
camp on 3 November by the army or CRP, he was not sure which. He
related that there was increasing tension on 31 October after the
news of the attack became known. He went to his neighbor for shelter
and was given protection but told to cut his hair, which he refused
to do. The following morning when a crowd came around, his neighbors
asked him to leave their house. Sikhs emerging on the street were
seized and their hair and beards were forcibly cut. The mob, who,
he said, was from the same locality, thereafter indulged in violence
and looted individual homes. However, the damage done was mainly
to the woodwork. Some movable property was stolen.
Very early on the following morning, at about
4 am, the crowd returned, dragged the men out of their homes and
beat them up. The neighbors pleaded for their lives and they were
thus saved but only for the time being. In the evening the neighbors
were also threatened with violence and that silenced them. Then
five persons of his family--his brother, brother-in-law, uncle and
two cousins--were belaboured with sticks and rods and burnt alive.
Attempts to rape some of the women were, however, thwarted. The
witness himself managed to escape by obtaining refuge in the house
of a Harijan woman. On 3 November he was removed along with other
survivors to a refugee camp. He named seven persons amongst the
perpetrators of the crimes, one of whom was a local Congress-I worker
identified as a supporter of a former MP.
A woman from Trilokpuri described her harrowing experience. She
and her husband, a Labana Sikh, originally from Sind, had migrated
to Rajasthan in 1947. About fifteen years ago they had moved to
Delhi in search of better prospects. During the slum clearance drive
of 1974-75, they had been resettled in Trilokpuri.
She and her husband and three of their children
survive but the eldest son aged 18 was killed on 1 November. She
described the mob led by the Congress-I block pradhan as consisting
of some people from the same block and others from neighboring blocks
and nearby villages. While the block pradhan identified Sikh houses
and urged the mobs to loot, burn and kill, the women were herded
together into one room. Some of them ran away but were pursued to
the nearby nallah where they were raped. Their shrieks and cries
for help fell on deaf ears. From among the women held in the room,
the hoodlums asked each other to select whomsoever they chose. All
the women were stripped and many dishonoured. She herself was raped
by ten men. Their lust satisfied, they told the women to get out,
naked as they were. For fear of their lives they did so, hiding
their shame as best as possible. Each begged or borrowed a garment
from relenting neighbors and sought shelter wherever they could.
The Commission gathered the following facts at the Sadar Bazar gurdwara
Having heard of the news of the assassination,
one witness feared trouble and brought his family to the gurdwara.
He found that some other families had already collected there. Leaving
the women and children downstairs, the men went up to the roof from
where they saw a crowd collecting at the local Congress-I office
about 200 yards away. They had come by truck at 8.30 on morning
of 1 November.
This mob then advanced towards the gurdwara
and started stoning the people they saw on the roof. The Sikhs had
also collected some bricks which they threw at the crowd. When their
supply was exhausted, the mob became emboldened and set fire to
a shop which the gurdwara had rented out. The group of Sikhs, about
twelve in number, collected all the swords available with them in
the gurdwara and came out. The mob retreated in the face of this
puny show of force. The police, who had been informed, came at about
3.30 pm. By that time, the fire had been put out. The police surprisingly
expressed their inability to do anything further to help them. Consequently
the Sikhs went back inside and locked the iron gates of the gurdwara.
On 2 November, the army brought refugees from other colonies in
the area surrounding Palam until there were 2,000 refugees in the
gurdwara. They were housed, clothed and fed entirely by voluntary
effort. The gurdwara itself fortunately escaped damage.
This victim's family consisted of his father, four brothers, mother,
two sisters-in-law, his wife and children. The family owned a bakery,
a confectionery, a kirana shop and a small chemical industry.
On 1 November at about 11 am, a mob of some
four hundred attacked the shop and the factory. The father and the
four brothers came out and pleaded with them. Some local Congress-I
workers arranged a compromise and asked them all to go back. Eight
persons from the mob, who were looting inside the shops, also came
out and went away. Fifteen minutes later a bigger mob of about two
thousand came and burnt the shops and the factory. One of the local
Congress-l workers had a fair price shop in his name which, because
of the complaints of the residents, had been canceled and allotted
to this family. That seemed to be the bone of contention. The victim's
house had the symbol 'Om' on the front and could not be identified
as Sikh house unless it had been pointed out as such by a local
The victim's father, three brothers and sister-in-law
were beaten and set on fire. Some liquid chemical and a powder were
used as incendiary material. The victim himself escaped by hiding
in the neighboring house of a Jat friend. He cut his hair and went
to Palam airport from where he returned to the gurdwara on the 4th.
There was no help from the police. There was no electricity in the
locality (Sadh Nagar) for 72 hours. Army rescue work started on
3 November. The victim, who is a young man, is left with his widowed
mother, widowed sister-in-law, brother's children and his own family
to look after. He is not prepared to go back to his original home,
which he considers unsafe, but is ready to settle down in Delhi
in a safe area and to reestablish his bakery. He has already applied
for a bank loan. The mob leader has been identified as a local Congress-l
worker, who is said to be the right hand man of a former MP.
What follows is a summary of an eye-witness account sent to the
Commission by a practicing Chartered Accountant (a non-Sikh) living
in New Friends' Colony. His account begins:
"Delhi had been considered by us to be
a civilized city. The news of rioting coming from different parts
of the country from time to time had always carried an aura of remoteness--something
which could not happen in Delhi. Or so it seemed up to 30 October
He continues to relate that after the announcement
of Smt. Gandhi's death over the AIR, they began receiving telephone
calls from friends informing them of incidents in various parts
of the city--from lorbagh, from Ring Road, from Safdarjung Enclaveof
Sikhs being badly beaten up and otherwise harassed. In view of the
trouble, he and a friend decided to go to the airport later that
night to receive a Sikh friend arriving in Delhi. On their way back
they saw a car burning near the IIT on outer Ring Road. Then they
saw a bus on fire. A little further on, they saw five taxis ablaze
at a taxi stand. It was about midnight by now and, after dropping
their friend at Panchsheel Enclave, they encountered several more
burning vehicles and shards of glass from broken wind-screens littering
the road. They saw only two policemen on the way home. Both of them
were unarmed. One of them was hurling stones at the Sikhs along
with the crowd. The other was urging people in the crowd to join
in the attacks.
The crowd was armed with lathis, crow-bars and
iron rods. They did not see any firearms, either with the crowd
or with the beleaguered Sikhs. In New Friends' Colony, they saw
several Sikh-owned shops which had been set on fire. Intervening
shops belonging to Hindus had not been touched. Two trucks parked
nearby were set on fire. The crowd then invaded the gurdwara opposite
the shops. They ransacked the rooms in the gurdwara compound and
set fire to the buildings. Efforts to contact the police on the
telephone were infructuous. He saw no signs of a police presence,
much less intervention. The absence of the police, according to
him, emboldened the mob. He felt that the 'scenes of wild mourning
and mass popular anger on the television were not helping in calming
the fury of the mob'.
That afternoon he saw another mob looting a
house in a cool and unhurried manner, without any dispute or competition
among the looters. Within half-an-hour, the house had been completely
ransacked and then set on fire. At about 4 pm, while the looting
was going on, the siren of an approaching police vehicle was heard.
This alarmed the mob who began to disperse but the vehicle just
drove by and the crowd re-assembled.
A 75 year old army officer, having retired in 1958, narrated that
a mob consisting mostly of some DTC bus drivers from Hari Nagar
Depot accompanied by anti-social elements attacked some shops and
nearby houses in 'G' Block of Hari Nagar. Arson followed the looting.
Cars, private buses, trucks and scooters parked in that area were
also burnt. The Sikh residents, assisted by Hindu neighbors of Fateh
Nagar and Shiv Nagar, came out and succeeded in challenging the
miscreants and driving them away.
On 3 November, at midday, the SHO of Tilak Nagar
Police Station turned up in a jeep and asked the people to go indoors.
Given the previous dab's experience, the residents did not trust
the police and some of them continued to maintain a vigil in the
streets. Seeing this, the police officer sent some constables to
the army officer's house. They began abusing and beating his family
members and even threatened one of them with a gun. They also beat
this 75-year old man and confiscated his unloaded licensed revolver
which he had owned since 1944. They dragged him by his hair to the
jeep and took him to the Police Station, continuing to hit him with
the butts of their guns. He was told to kill two Sikhs if he wanted
to be freed.
At the Police Station he was locked up and again
beaten to the point of bleeding and becoming unconscious. He was
beaten by a Sub-inspector (whom he named) who shouted that no Sikh
would be able to live in the area with his hair and beard. Among
the four police personnel who had beaten him, he named two--an Sl
and an ASI. The following day, the police took him to Court where
a case under Section 307 of the IPC was registered against him.
He was locked up in Tihar Jail along with some criminals and was
able to secure his release on bail only on 12 November.
The late husband of this witness was a tea-stall owner. They are
originally from Alwar. They were resettled in Trilokpuri in 1977,
on a plot measuring 22.5 sq. yds., and given a loan of Rs. 2,000
to build a dwelling. Her husband and three sons (the eldest aged
28, was a railway porter, the second aged 20, drove a hired scooter-rickshaw
while the third was a boy of 14), were all killed on 1 November.
She said that on 1 November, some people went around asking the
shops to down shutters. Those who had closed them, returned to their
homes. She then said that the pradhan (Congress-l) of their block
went around calling people to assemble, as a mob was coming to burn
the gurdwara. The police soon came on the scene and warned them
all to return to their homes and to stay indoors assuring them that
they would be safe if they did so. When a mob first came the Sikhs
came out and repulsed them. Three such waves were repulsed but each
time the police came and told them to go home and stay there.
The fourth time the mob came in increased strength
and started attacking individual homes, driving people out, beating
and burning them and setting fire to their homes. The method of
killing was invariably the same: a man was hit on the head, sometimes
his skull broken, kerosene poured over him and set on fire. Before
being burnt, some had their eyes gouged out. Sometimes, when a burning
man asked for water, a man urinated on his mouth.
Several individuals, including her sister's son tried to escape
by cutting their hair. Most of them were also killed. Some had their
hair forcibly cut but were nevertheless killed thereafter. She lost
everything of value from her own home, including Rs. 7,000 in cash,
a radio, a TV and other items. Despite being a middle-aged mother
of four, she was nearly raped but was saved by providence. Nevertheless
she was repeatedly humiliated and her clothes were torn off two
or three times. She said that when the stricken women rushed out
of their burning homes, the Gujjars (from village Chilla), bhangis
and some others inquired from each other which woman they fancied
and then proceeded to rape them. She heard people shouting to each
other to kill every Sikh and that even if one escaped, it would
be bad for them. There were twenty one males in her father-in-law's
family. All of them were killed. Her brother was beaten and left
for dead but fortunately survived.
This resident of Nangloi, a venerable person with a flowing white
beard who looked like a patriarch, belonged originally to Rawalpindi.
He had previously lost everything during Partition. He informed
the Commission that on 1 November at about 1:00 pm, many trucks
and tractors with trolleys full of stones came to Nangloi from the
direction of Bahadurgarh. This happened at a time when the Delhi/Haryana
border was said to have been sealed. The drivers and passengers
let loose a region of terror in the area. They first stoned the
houses, then broke open and looted them, and finally dragged out
the men and killed them. He said that 65 male Sikhs had been killed
in Nangloi. Only the women, two old men and small children survived.
In addition to stones, the mob carried studded rods, kerosene and
someinflammable powder. He alleged that a political leader came
on a motorcycle and identified the houses inhabited by Sikhs. Asked
how he recognized the motorcyclist he replied that he knew him personally,
having gone to him for help in solving personal problems.
FlRs had been lodged on 4 and 5 November but
so far no action had been taken nor any arrests made. No stolen
goods had been recovered. Asked whether any women had been molested,
he replied emphatically in the negative. He also said that trains
between Rohtak and Delhi had been stopped at Nangloi and Sikh passengers
dragged out, beaten and murdered.
A retired Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry, Delhi State, this
witness lives on a small farm on the southern outskirts of the capital.
He appeared before the Commission at his own request. He grows vegetables,
breeds chicken and maintains some cattle. He also renders free veterinary
services to the residents of surrounding villages who frequently
come to consult him regarding problems concerning their live-stock.
He related that once the news of the assassination
became widely known, feelings were aroused as a matter of course.
He saw groups of people moving around and going to Sikh residences
in the area which were attacked and looted. Some chickens and a
buffalo were stolen from his farm and some damage inflicted on the
main building. He was not interested in going into details and declared
that he did not want any compensation for himself. Nor had he any
particular complaint against the miscreants whom, he felt, had been
put up to their misdeeds. He told the Commission in as many words
that his major concern was for the future. What, he asked concisely,
was in store for the country when anti-social forces were enabled,
or were able, to perpetrate misdeeds or to break the law with impunity.
He said that this was his sole concern and that he had sought an
interview with the Commission only to request it to devise measures
to ensure the future of the country.
A serving army NCO made available to the Commission a copy of a
letter he had sent to his superior officer. He was returning to
Delhi from Amritsar on the Frontier Mail on 2 November 1984, after
availing of five days' casual leave. He states that he was witness
to the stopping of trains on the approach to Delhi across the Yamuna
when Sikh passengers, including some Sikh soldiers, were beaten
and/or killed. After being beaten, some were thrown into the river
while others were roasted alive. A few were able to save their lives
after they had shaved or cut their hair. He also saw the heads and
beards of dead Sikhs being shaved after which kerosene was poured
over their faces and set alight so that the dead person could not
be identified. After about two hours, a guard over a treasury consignment
fired three shots in the air which caused the mob to scatter and
the train then moved off. Upon reaching Delhi Main Station, he says
that he saw many bodies of dead Sikhs. He reported-his experience
to the RTO at Delhi station.
He wrote that he himself was spared because
he was in uniform and that the mob told him that they were letting
him off for that reason.
On 21 December three members of the Commission visited Sultanpuri
and Mangolpuri. They inspected the damaged houses and saw the terrible
havoc that had been wreaked. The tales of violence were broadly
similar to other accounts they had heard. The new item was that
they were told that the police had fired on Sikhs who had grouped
in the street for self-defense. They named a police officer who
allegedly fired on the group and killed two men. The marks of .303
rifle bullets on some houses were pointed out to the members. A
spent bullet was found embedded in a wall. This police officer was
still posted in Sultanpuri Police Station and continued to threaten
and abuse Sikh residents.
The Commission was given several names of miscreants
amongst whom was a kerosene depot holder, who was said to have supplied
free kerosene oil. The others named were the block pradhan (Congress-I),
another oil dealer and a Congress-I worker described as a special
confidant of a prominent Congress-I leader. The local perpetrators
of the violence continue to threaten and intimidate the remaining
residents, almost all of whom at that time were women and children.
Nearly all the men had gone to Rajasthan and were planning to stay
there till at least after the elections. The Commission was told
of the harassment of a Muslim resident of the area, who had given
protection and assistance to the Sikhs for which he had been beaten
up. He was threatened, even as late as on 12 December, for continuing
to give them advice and assistance.
This victim, originally from Alwar, has resided in Delhi for about
25 years. In 1977, he had been moved along with others to Block
32, Trilokpuri. He operated his own cycle-rickshaw and owned a pucca
house consisting of two rooms. He told the Commission that out of
the nine male members in his family, seven had been killed. Only
he and one brother survive. The gist of his gruesome experience
is as follows:
The killings took place on the afternoon of
1 November. The usual method was to make the victims immobile by
beating them. Then kerosene was poured over them and they were set
on fire. He mentioned that, earlier, a police havildar, whom he
named, and two constables had come to the area and when they saw
a group of Sikhs gathered to defend themselves, the havildar shot
and killed one of them. He named three local political figures as
having been leaders of the aggressive mob. When the Sikhs grouped,
the mob dispersed. But the police persuaded them to return to their
respective homes. When they returned and locked themselves in, the
mobs came again and meted out broadly similar treatment to each
They first knocked at the door asking the inmates
to come out. If they did not, the door was broken open and the inmates
were dragged out. If they opened the door, they got the same treatment.
They were first beaten, and sometimes knocked senseless, thereafter
kerosene was poured over the individual who was then set alight.
In almost all cases, the neighbors did not help. Rather, they participated
in the violence. He said that four types of cases had been registered:
assault and robbery, rape, arson and murder. There had been no action
so far; a few culprits who had been arrested were released within
a few days and were still at large and threatening the people. No
efforts had been made to recover stolen property and none had been
returned to the owners. He also alleged that bank officials and/or
civil servants had indulged in fraud or mischief while distributing
the cheques covering the compensation stipulated by the Government.
This witness is a raagi (performer of kirtan) employed by the Delhi
Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. He informed the Commission that,
being on duty that morning at one of the gurdwaras, he left home
at about 7 am on 1 November and disembarked from a bus at Punjabi
Bagh to catch a connecting bus. He was seized by the crowd and roughed
up. His hair was forcibly cut but he managed to escape. He returned
to his house, collected his family and managed to reach safety.
It took him some time to round them up. During this time he saw
the local dealer in kerosene oil and a local Congress-l leader supplying
free kerosene to the crowd. He saw a woman who was five months pregnant
being dragged into a house. She did not emerge for a considerable
time. They were taken to a relief camp on 3 November. FlRs were
lodged on 4 or 5 November but no action had been taken. The same
people who brutalized them continue to threaten them and joke about
the Sikhs. Asked how he knew that the perpetrators were Congress
men, he replied that they were all shouting slogans such as 'Indira
Gandhi Zindabad' and 'Sajjan Kumar Zindabad'.
During its visit to S.S. Mota Singh School Camp, Narang Colony,
the Commission heard a general account from the President and Secretary
of the local Cooperative Housebuilding Society. The general pattern
of violence was described as follows.
A group of urchins, led and encouraged by some
adults, were collected and supplied with free liquor, iron rods,
kerosene or petrol. They then went on a rampage beating individuals,
of whom some were burnt. Only Sikh houses were burnt--and these
were identified by one of the leaders. Those who escaped and went
to the police for assistance were ignored or, worse, ill-treated
by the police themselves. Such police personnel were known to have
instigated killings for fear of being identified by the victims.
A typical police report would read somewhat as follows: 'A small
group was gathered at a point when they were faced by a large number
of Sikhs with kirpans. Feeling threatened they began attacking Sikhs.'
No searches were made to recover stolen property.
The police only went around the residential areas appealing to persons
to surrender stolen goods. While some items were recovered in this
manner, not even 10% of them had been returned to the legitimate
In the Janakpuri area, fourteen gurdwaras were
burnt. The building of S. S. Mota Singh School had been burnt and
the metal door destroyed --and the local police station is only
250 metres away. At a nearby school, the building and eleven buses
had been burnt. Attempts to get police intervention were infructuous.
Several people had seen a prominent Congress-l politician's brother-in-law
advising or instigating the mobs. They also saw young men coming
to the crowd on motorcycles, presumably to convey instructions or
The residents of the area were upset with the
Congressi whose representatives, they firmly believed, were responsible
for the violence. They were even more upset that after the violence
no representatives of either the Congress-l or representatives of
any other political party came to sympathize with them or give them