Punjab Research Group

1984 and the violence of memory

Posted in Articles, sikhs by santhyb on November 1, 2011

Opinion piece by Ravinder Kaur in The Hindu

More than a quarter century on, not much remains of ‘1984′ — shorthand for one of the largest pogroms in India’s postcolonial history when thousands of Sikhs were massacred in retribution for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination — in the public memory. The voices of victims and eyewitnesses one often heard in courtrooms have almost retired in exhaustion. The names of state-appointed serial commissions to establish the facts on ground have by now joined footnotes of history in a long line of ineffective judicial commissions of similar nature. And more remarkably, the miscarriage of justice through long-winded judicial processes where eyewitnesses routinely turn hostile due to threats, incentives, pressures exerted by fixers, or because of plain weariness has ceased evoking any mass outrage. In any case, the victims are supposed to have ‘got over’ the event and ‘moved on,’ precisely as enterprising and forward-looking communities are expected to do.

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