Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Hondh-Chillar Massacre

The Hondh-Chillar massacre refers to the killings of at least 32 Sikhs on November 2, 1984 in a village in the Rewari district of Haryana, by the Indian National Congress as part of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms. The local police did not intervene in the massacre, pursue a First information report filed by survivors or help resettle the survivors. The mass graves at the massacre were rediscovered in January 2011. A similar massacre occurred in nearby Pataudi.
During the Partition of India, Hondh village was settled by 16 families who migrated from Pakistan. Hondh was a "dhani", or cluster of farmhouses, outside the main village of Chillar. The families were influential and prior to the massacre the Sarpanch, or mayor, of Chillar had been one of the residents of Hondh.

In the 1970s, during the Indian Emergency, thousands of Sikhs campaigning for autonomous government were imprisoned. In 1984, during an Indian Army assault called Operation Bluestar, thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed in the Golden Temple and the Sikh Reference Library was burned. After the October 1984 Assassination of Indira Gandhi, thousands of Sikhs were killed in the 1984 Anti-Sikh pogroms by Indian National Congress mobs being aided by government officials who provided "trucks and state busses" as well as "weapons-including oil, kerosene, and other flammable materials".

The attack happened in two waves. On November 1, 1984 a group of Indian National Congress memberss attempted to storm the village but the Sikh villagers were able to fend them off. However, at 10 AM on November 2, a truck and a bus carrying "200-250" young men arrived at the village. They began attacking the Sikhs armed with rods, lathis, diesel, kerosene, and matches as well as chanting slogans in favor of the Congress (I) party. For four hours the Congress members mob beat to death and burned alive 31 Sikh villagers. They continued to burn down the Sikhs' bungalows and Gurdwara until the villagers who were able to escape the initial attack tried to find shelter in three different houses. The mob then set two of the houses on fire by pouring kerosene through the roof. One villager, Balwant Singh, retaliated by killing one of the rioters with a sword and another group of villagers ran out of their burning house to fight back. Once the villagers started fighting back the massacre "came to an abrupt halt".

On the night of November 2, the 32 surviving Sikhs found shelter in the house of a Hindu family in Dhanora, a nearby village. Under the cover of night they escaped to Rewari in a tractor trolley.  Once the villagers started fighting back the massacre "came to an abrupt halt". The survivors now reside in Ludhiana and Bathinda in Punjab.

A FIR was filed by Dhanpat Singh, the then sarpanch, or mayor, of Chillar at police station Jatusana in Mahendragarh district, which is now in Rewari district.  It reveals the killers first came from Hali Mandi around 11 AM but were persuaded by the villagers to turn around. When they came in the evening they had several more trucks of reinforcements and a group of three Hindus had tried to persuade the killers to leave the village but were intimidated into leaving. It reports that 20 of the dead Sikh villagers' bodies were burned beyond recognition. 

On February 23, 2011, the local police claimed to have lost the First information report, however The Times of India was able to find a signed copy of the report which had been obtained from the same police station just days earlier. 
Pataudi Massacre
The media, the Sikh organizations, the politicians had all labelled the riots as the ‘Delhi riots’...We were scared and alone, what could we do? We did not have the time, resources or support to fight against the system. And to be honest, when you lose your whole world, your will to fight dies. - Survivor quoted by Tehelka

At 6 PM on November 1, 1984 after Indira Gandhi was shot, a mob under the guidance of Congress leader Lalit Maken set fire to Pataudi's Gurdwara which created a panic in the city. As the armed mob rampaged through the town and set fire to Sikh homes in the city, one group of Sikhs escaped to the outskirts while another found shelter in local Hindu Ashram.

On November 2, the Sikhs returned to the city to see the damage done to their homes. Left tired and crying in front of their homes, they became separated from each other, and at 10 AM the mob returned and began burning people alive. Many of the Sikhs were able to escape but the Congress mob captured 17 of them, murdered them, and burned their remains to remove evidence.

Although the survivors filed multiple FIRs with the police, none of the assailants were captured or prosecuted. After the massacre many Sikh families fled and only five families remain out of thirty that were settled prior to the massacre.
Here is list of 17 persons killed during attacks on Sikhs at Pataudi (Near Hondh-Chillar) Haryana:

Kishan Singh (Husband of Geevni Bai)
Kapur Singh (Son of Geevni Bai)
Kuldip Singh (Son of Geevni Bai)
Harbahajan Singh son of Geevni Bai)
Harnam Singh (Husband of Isri Bai)
Avtar Singh (Son of Isri Bai)
Harmeet Kaur (Daughter of Gian Singh)
Karamjeet Kaur (Daughter of Gian Singh)
Gurbaksh Singh (Son of Gian Singh)
Amrik Singh (Husband of Amrit Kaur)
Fateh Singh (Son of Kirpal Singh)
Arjun Singh (Son of Mohinder Singh)
Bhagat Singh (Son of Mohinder Singh)
Gopal Singh (Son of Inder Singh)
Surjit Singh
Kamaljeet Kaur
Granthi of Gurudwara

On January 22, 2011, an engineer in Gurgaon, Haryana, Manwinder Singh Giaspur, struck up a conversation with a delivery boy who talked about a "deserted village of Sardars " near his own village. When the boy began talking about arson, Giaspur realized he was talking about the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms. The boy further told him that recently people had begun to steal wood and bricks from the site so on January 23 Giaspur drove to Chillar and found the site of the massacre. After seeing bones inside a building and quotations from the Guru Granth Sahib on the walls he realized the building was a Gurdwara. Giaspur then uploaded "50-60" pictures of the village onto Facebook and sent appeals to various Punjabi language newspapers to investigate and preserve the site. After not receiving help from the SGPC, Giaspur contacted the All India Sikh Students Federation and Sikhs for Justice. On March 13, the man who discovered the site of the massacre was asked to resign from his position as general manager of V&S International Pvt Ltd, allegedly for his role in exposing the massacre.

No comments:

Post a Comment