The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 still haunt the ruling Indian National Congress. Almost three decades ago around 3,000 minority Sikhs were killed, allegedly at the instigation of local Congress leaders in Delhi in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, on October 31, 1984.
The recent assassination attempt on Lieutenant-General Kuldip Singh Brar in London is a grim reminder that the ghosts of the Punjab insurgency are still with us so many years after the last shots were fired. Indira Gandhi’s decision to send troops into the Golden Temple in June 1984 — troops Gen. Brar commanded — set off events which would claim tens of thousands of lives, including her own. Historians have long debated if Mrs Gandhi’s decision to storm the temple was correct. This much, though, there is a consensus on: the murderous events of the summer of 1984 were an outcome of a vicious political dance, in which Mrs Gandhi’s Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal sought to outmanoeuvre each other by using Sikh militancy.