“When a tree shook Delhi “
Manoj Mitta & H.S.Phoolka
When a mighty tree falls….
“One, who sows the wind, shall reap the whirlwind “- the Bible declares.
A true manifestation of this assertion was the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi by Sikh fanatics in retaliation to the Army action inside “The Akal Takht”, the professed seat of power of Sikh Religion. The tragic outcome was another whirlwind or rather a holocaust. The Pogrom in which the Congress leaders and supporters, who swear by Secularism for the consumption of the innocents, killed and tortured a large number of Sikhs , in Delhi and many other North Indian Cities, shook the collective conscience of Human Race. Families were uprooted, women were raped and Sikhs became refugees in their own country. Some of the Sikh men were so scared that they got their hair cut and beards shaved (discarding one of the basic tenets of their religion) to escape identification. It is roughly estimated that around 3000 people were killed in Delhi alone. The week that followed the 31st October 1984, became a prolonged ‘Krystal Nacht’ for the Sikhs, and got indelibly etched in their memory for ever. The saddest part of the story was the justification of the Pogrom by Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded Mrs. Gandhi as Prime minister of India. About the murderous reprisal , he said “ When a big tree falls, the Earth shakes”.
However , it is surprising that no authentic recording of the details of the carnage in the form of books emerged unlike the deluge of books that followed the emergency and the destruction of Babri Masjid.
The Book by Mitta and Phoolka fills this void and does pride to a multi cultural and multi religious Democracy , that is India, by courageously looking at the various aspects of the riots. The authors are not afraid of looking at the scars left by State sponsored terrorism. The manipulative fashion in which the Government , unabashedly utilized the services of a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court to enquire into the killings and to get an insipid Report submitted, is well described in the Book. The Judge in question was later promoted as the Chief Justice and made the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission , after retirement and was thus amply rewarded. Shame on the plight of Human Rights !
The suppression of a section of society by terrorizing them and brutally silencing their voices, should make every right thinking Indian to shiver , that the erosion of the rule of Law will eventually pave the way to fascism. Fortunately, the events described in the Book did not take an ugly turn and the gentle flame of democracy was not extinguished by the whirlwind.
The Book is recommended as a must read for all young Indians.