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A Publication
on The Status of
Adivasi Populations
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Rajiv Gandhi: He Who Shall Not Be Named?!

By Simran Kaur

05 November, 2014

While there has been due (even if not sufficient) protest (even if not result) against the current Pogrom Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, this week's posts and analysis about 1984 are conspicuously silent on that heir-of-violence: Rajiv Gandhi.

Neither the recent Human Rights Watch statement about the impunity around 1984, nor the considerably weaker statement by the once more radical Amnesty International, even elude to the command responsibility for 1984.

Facebook warriors are similarly quite stifled in their reaction. While seldom limiting themselves to saying “Amit Shah should be re-investigated,” the same brave voices end at the names of HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Tytler when speaking about 1984. It's no wonder this lower rung of politicians were rewarded by the Congress party with coveted political portfolios and constant shielding: in the imaginary of even the most outspoken justice-loving Indian, their names have foreshadowed Rajiv's for the last three decades.

During this 30 th anniversary, Sikhs themselves, across the world, are engaged in memory efforts including days of remembrance (yaad project) , videos of 1984 voices seldom heard , art and poetry , and some are more bravely calling a spade a spade and  saying that Narendra Modi's electoral victories are simply a reflection of Rajiv Gandhi's precedent.

One effort by Sikhs on the 25 th anniversary went further:

We, the undersigned, call for

An independent international inquiry into Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress party's role …


the immediate removal of the name of former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, from all public monuments, airports, roads, stadia, parks, sports awards, and professorships.

While this petition didn't get as wide traction, it did make an obvious point:

The age-old Indian tendency of servility to those in power is thwarting actual demands of justice and non-repetition of violence.

International criminal law recognizes the primacy of holding the one with the maximum responsibility most guilty in order to break cycles of impunity. “Command responsibility” holds a superior legally responsible for human rights violations by subordinates if the official knew or should have known about these violations but failed to prevent them or punish those who committed them.

Failure to prevent or punish is firstly evidenced in Rajiv's notorious dismissal of the murders as “When a big tree falls…the earth does shake a little.”

The petition's related website also points out how a 2014 PIL asking for revocation of honors to Rajiv Gandhi was immediately shot down by the esteemed Supreme Court with an explanation that the petitioner “may become too emotional.” http://www.nov1984.org

Emotions indeed continue to run high particularly because the plain truth is seldom spoken, even by the best of advocates.

When writer Manoj Mitta recently testified on the 1984 pogroms at a US Congressional hearing last month, he said “ when the two Houses of Parliament passed resolutions condoling the death of Indira Gandhi, they steered clear of any reference to the thousands of innocent Sikhs who had been killed to avenge her murder.” Mitta steered clear from the obvious point that Rajiv Gandhi must be named for the killings that happened under Rajiv's watch. 

As Arundhati Roy summed up years ago, standing for victims cannot be party-dependent:.

“Take any politically volatile issue and you see the Congress has been there before. (But) it has done by night what the BJP does by day. It has done hypocritically, covertly what the BJP does with pride.”

Simran Kaur is an activist, accountant, reader, mother, and Punjabi, who spends her time between Moga and Canada .



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