Horror of 1984 : Sikh ‘Kicked, Stoned & Set On Fire’


(Following is a reproduction of a story filed by the Reuters and published by Canberra Times on 3 November, 1984.)

“The Sikh was thrown of “the train, kicked and stoned and then the mob set fire to his body.

“I am a doctor and wanted to help him, but was locked into the railway compartment and could do nothing.”

Dr Elizabeth Joyce, of London, was travelling with her husband from the western Indian city of Udaipur to New Delhi when Hindus began exacting a bloody revenge on Sikhs for the assassination of Mrs Gandhi.

Further down the line, she and her husband saw another Sikh being pulled off the train. He was beaten to death with pickaxed handles.

“The train stopped several times and gangs with sticks jumped on to it looking for Sikhs. They beat against the shutters of the compartments.

“We lowered ours and, when they saw we were Europeans, they smiled. There was no anger in their faces: it was like a carnival.

“We heard women screaming and believe Sikhs were killed in other places. All along the route we saw crowds of people in a circle watching something and we think it was the same thing. Children were there, and women in bright saris.”

Dr Joyce said there were police and soldiers on the train but they were unable to stop the killings.

“There were huge crowds armed with sticks on the stations where we passed. All the police were doing was walking among them.”

She said she pleaded with a boy on the train that she wanted to help the wounded. “This is India, don’t worry, it is nothing to do with you,” he replied. “They (the Sikhs) won’t mind.”

“I have worked in Africa, but I have never seen anything like this,” Dr Joyce said. “The worst thing was my sense of helplessness, that I, a qualified doctor, could do nothing to stop this human suffering.

“All we want to do now is get a plane out of this country — to anywhere.”

A Sikh major-general of the Indian army masterminded the assassination of Mrs Gandhi and three Sikh assailants were involved in the killing, one of the assassins was quoted as saying today.

The Statesman newspaper said Satwant Singh, a member of Mrs Gandhi’s security staff who was wounded by her bodyguards immediately after the attack, made the confession to his interrogators in hospital.

He reportedly added that a conspiracy was also hatched to kill President Singh, a Sikh, and Mr Rajiv Gandhi, son of the late Prime Minister who succeeded her in the office.

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Saquib Salim

Saquib Salim is a well known historian under whose supervision various museums (Red Fort, National Library, IFFI, Jallianwala Bagh etc.) were researched. To his credit Mr. Salim has more than 400 published articles on history, politics, culture and literature in English and Hindi. Before pursuing his research and masters in modern Indian History from JNU, he was an electrical engineering student at AMU. Presently, he works as a freelance/ independent history researcher, writer and works at www.awazthevoice.in

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