Merchants of death paid Rs. 500 for each death of 1984 Sikh carnage

via 1984 rioters were paid Rs 500 for each killing: Book published on December 8, 2007

The rioters of the 1984 Sikh carnage, in which over 3000 people were killed in Delhi, were apparently paid Rs 500 for each person they killed, a new book on the riots reveals, reinforcing the allegation that the violence far from being spontaneous was the outcome of a conspiracy.

The book, titled When A Tree Shook Delhi, written by journalist Manoj Mitta and advocate for many of the riot victims’ families, H S Phoolka, claims to give an “uncensored” insight into the events. The book traces the genesis of the violence through eyewitness accounts and the investigations by Phoolka as counsel for victims.

Quoting from the affidavit of war widow Joginder Kaur, the book says when the police was taking her, along with her two sons, to a safe place to protect them from the rage of the rioters, she saw members of a mob remonstrating with the police inspector that, by shielding her two sons he was ”putting them at a loss of Rs 500 each”. The members were so upset about their monetary loss that, at that point, the policemen had to draw out their revolvers and threaten to fire at the mob.

It was a tell-tale evidence, preciously scarce, of the manner in which the violence had been organised. Rioters were paid and they were paid in proportion to the number of Sikhs killed by them, the author says.

The pay-offs issue reinforces the allegation that the violence, far from being spontaneous, was the outcome of a high-level conspiracy. However, Justice Ranganath Misra Commission, which probed the carnage, failed to notice the very excerpt a disclosure of far greater evidentary value.

The commission glossed over it lest it contradicted its big finding that the violence had begun spontaneously and that whatever organisation had come into play at a later stage was confined to unmanned ‘anti-social elements’ and Congress Party workers, the author says, adding that in retrospect, it is just as well that Justice Ranganath Misra overlooked the revelation about the pay-offs.

The book claims that the Misra Commission presented a “diluted” version of events and also blames the police for the mass killings in the rioting that broke out after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her two Sikh security guards on October 31, 1984. It details incidents which show complicity of the police in the riots. Ignoring the aggressors, police cracked down on the Sikhs who were defending themselves, it says.
The book takes its title from former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s infamous remark on the carnage which said, “Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken But when a big tree falls, the ground around it does shake a little.”

Twenty-three years on, neither the organisers of the massacre nor the state players who facilitated it have been punished, despite prolonged inquires and trials.

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