The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been in power in Delhi for more than twenty five days now. In a short span of time they are boasting of numerous achievements including important ones such as establishing an Anti-corruption helpline, CAG audit of Electricity supply companies and handling the water tanker mafia apart from others. Such measures are supposed to be creating a fear in the minds of government and various other officials throughout Delhi. These are some initiatives that governments in the past have never taken.
A similar initiative is to bring justice to the victims of the Sikh genocide, from 1984 onwards. The promise of this justice is vast as it includes rehabilitation and compensation of the victims of the genocide and also disciplinary action against all the police personnel and other individuals that were part of the atrocities at one point or another. But how can this happen now as we are soon approaching three decades since the time of the first incidents?
Disciplining involved Delhi police personnel for their past and present actions is a difficult task because Delhi police remains under the control of the Central Home Ministry rather than Delhi Government. In a related and recent development, Somnath Bharti, the law minister of Delhi visited a neighborhood in his home constituency of Malviya Nagar to investigate an alleged sex and drug racket operating in the area. According to reports, Somnath Bharti requested the assistance of a police vehicle to search the premises for evidence regarding the matter. However, the SHO (Station House Officer) of the area refused to cooperate and left the site without any investigation. The AAP asked for the suspension of the SHO and ACP of the areas for failing to perform their duties. At the same time they raised the issue of other recent incidents where a woman was set on fire in her home and in yet another a Danish woman was raped.
An overhaul of a system like this will take time and efforts should continue to be directed towards the correction. At the same time the AAP should bring to notice the present situation of the victims of the 1984 genocide and their families. Prior to the elections Somnath Bharti had promised to provide justice were he to be elected.
The horrors of 1984 continue to haunt the Sikh community as even to this date they are being targeted in incidents of communal violence. Only a few months ago in October of last year, a Sikh family was attacked in a dispute related to property and insults pertaining to 1984 were thrown on them. The assailant was reported to have remarked “1984 Bhool gaye, Sallo Yaad Karwata hoon” (Have you forgotten 1984? We will remind you of it again.), along with further such insults to the Sikh victims. In another isolated incident, over a dozen people mostly Sikhs, were injured and vehicles set on fire by a mob in Delhi on August the 15th, 2013, the day that India celebrates its Independence Day.
These incidents show that political motivation against the Sikhs still exists in Delhi. The AAP declares itself to be secular in representing people of all faiths and backgrounds. It is thus crucial for the AAP to look into this matter urgently so as to keep such incidents in check. The Widow Colony in the Tilak Vihar area of Delhi is home to a large number of widows of such incidents as well as their children. These children are mostly young adults now who have largely taken to drug abuse for the lack of opportunities to make their livelihoods and being outcast by society.
The AAP should provide long due monetary compensation as well as housing to these families by recognizing them as victims of the state. These are women who lost most or all male members of their homes as well as others due to torture and death by the Government. The children of these women should be provided with education as well as employment opportunities so that they can start leading normal lives again. They also need to be integrated into mainstream society so that they can enjoy their civil and other rights, and regain their freedoms.
Numerous Sikhs of Delhi have joined forces with the AAP in the struggle for a safer society for all. Sikhs such as Jarnail Singh (apart from the famous journalist) have contested and won the Delhi elections in their constituencies as AAP candidates. Earlier this month, reputed senior lawyer H.S. Phoolka of Chandigarh, who has been fighting cases for the victims of 1984 declared his intention to join the Aam Aadmi Party.
This is a big step forward for both, and an opportunity for the AAP to ascertain the promises it made before the elections. Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP should publicly recognize the unfortunate past, and the need for justice to the said victims. In the capacity of the Chief Minister of Delhi he should exercise his wisdom as well as influence to instruct the various authorities in ensuring that the law finally takes its due course.. We thus ask Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party to look into this matter with immediate attention and make it a part of their broader agenda.