1984 remains one of the darkest years in Sikh and Indian history. In June of that year, orders from the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi sanctioned a military assault on the Sikhs holiest shrine – Harminder Sahib (the Golden Temple)- in Amritsar, Punjab.
The attack claimed the lives of thousands of civilians. Following on from this, on 31st October of the same year, Mrs. Gandhi was shot and killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Her assassination sparked genocidal killings of Sikhs across the country. Bystanders watched with fear as mobs roamed the streets of New Delhi, gang-raping Sikh women, murdering Sikh men and burning down Sikh homes, businesses and Gurdwaras (temples).
Reports revealed that law enforcement and government officials contributed to the massacres by engaging in the violence, inciting the public to seek revenge and providing the mobs with arms.
■According to ‘official’ reports, within four days nearly 3,000 Sikhs had been murdered. However, the true figures for the number of Sikhs that died are far higher.
■Throughout India, Sikhs were finding themselves victims to the backlash initiated by public and government officials.
■This outrage, in addition to the 1984 attack of the Golden temple, gave birth to many freedom movements led by young Sikhs in small villages throughout Punjab.
They were taking up arms and fighting for justice against those who had targeted Sikhs. The following stories are of the families of those few individuals who dedicated and sacrificed their lives to stand up to the injustice they had witnesses and promote freedom and equality.