1984 anti-Sikh riots victims focus on ‘candidate, not party’

May 7th, 2009 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) The Congress dropped two controversial candidates after protests from victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, but that did not seem to have helped the party among the largest concentration of riot victims in west Delhi, who said they were voting Thursday according to the candidate rather than the party.
In the West Delhi constituency where the Congress’s Mahabal Mishra is contesting against the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Jagdish Mukhi, the Bihari versus Punjabi factor seemed to be overshadowing the party factor.

“How can we vote for a Bihari when a Punjabi candidate who has worked for our constituency for years together is contesting against him? The Congress has not given us any option, so we are voting for BJP,” said Bhupinder Kaur, a housewife and survivor of the 1984 anti-sikh riots in the capital.

Many Sikhs in the Tilak Vihar area of West Delhi, who had suffered during the riots, said they had not voted for many years as no one bothered to hear their grievances.

“We have lost all hopes on the present government. We want change. So this time we are voting for the candidate and not for the party,” Amrit Singh Lovely, another riot victim, told IANS, as he left his home along with his family to cast his vote.

“We are a big joint family and as many as 18 people are eligible to vote. We will all vote for the Punjabi community,” Lovely added.

The polling started on a low key in the morning, but picked up as people finished their home chores and came out to vote.

“We have requested our community to vote for a candidate who they think can help them get justice,” said Jagdish Singh Khalsa, another riot survivor.

About 2,700 Sikhs were killed as mobs roamed Delhi streets in the aftermath of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984.

The Congress last month withdrew the candidature of Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, both named in various cases connected to the anti-Sikh riots, following protests from the community.

Two commissions and eight committees have probed the violence but the community feels it is yet to get justice.

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