Oct 31, 1984.

9 11 2005

That is my earliest political memory. A sad fact, that it is a political assassination, which remains etched in my memory to this day.

“Sikhs everywhere were outraged at the perceived desecration of their holiest shrine: on October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. She was cremated on 3 November, near Raj Ghat and the place was called Shakti Sthal. After her death, anti-Sikh riots engulfed New Delhi and spread across the country, killing more than 1,000 and leaving tens of thousands homeless.” – wiki

“No school today! Indira Gandhi is dead.(why is she dead?) Her own bodyguard killed her. (Is that bad?!) What on earth is playing on the television? (Some boring guy playing the shennai. Now another playing the sitar…. State mourning… great! Can I have some cartoons back?… Well, at least, they don’t have cricket on!)– my first thoughts.

Slowly, reality kicks in.

Our neighbor, X Singh uncle, who hosted the most wonderful satsangs at his place, every week (I was sure, everyone thought it was wonderful, mostly because of the amazing pooris they made.) It was at his home, that I ate my first roti-sized pooris, fried for everyone who attended the satsang. Made by anyone, willing to help make them.

And now, his son, Y bhaiya, who started college a couple of months back, is in danger. His parents and everyone around, suggest that he go and register himself at the nearest police station. Maybe he should spend the night there. Jails are the safest place for a Sikh to be, you know – they say. Maybe he should be clean-shaven. Maybe he should… (Why should Y bhaiya go to jail? What has he done? What harm have the colourful turbans on his head caused – to anyone? No one answers.)

Honestly, how does killing people, solve the world’s problems? (Thanks falstaff! – for the c&h story)

Reading Veena‘s first, brought back these memories.

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3 responses

9 11 2005
Falstaff

You’re welcome.

The 1984 riots are pretty much my earliest political memory as well – I’m not sure how much of this I imagined but I have memories of:

a) Our neighbour coming over with a whole bunch of things that he wanted us to keep in our house so that they would be ‘safe’ in case someone looted their place

b) Of standing on the roof of our house in Delhi and watching a distant spiral of smoke curling away into the sky.

It’s not a happy memory to have.

9 11 2005
Veena

1984 seems to be everyone’s first political memory now! I remember walking 5 km back home from school while my parents searched the whole city for me.

10 11 2005
The Black Mamba

Falstaff: Delhi was the epicenter of the riots and chaos. Being in bangalore, I was thankfully shielded from the real violence. Most of the violence and the rioting was what I saw at 9pm on Doordarshan or read in the Deccan Herald.

Veena: Just goes to show, that we hang out mostly with one generation of Indians, both in the real and the blog world :)

I remember my mom telling me about one of her early political memories. This was when Lal Bahadur Shastri was the PM. In a radio address to the nation, he had asked all Indians to give up one meal a week, as India was on the brink of a massive famine caused by two consecutive years of severe drought. And my mom has skipped dinner on fridays ever since.

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