I am not looking for justice, but for development: 1984 riot victim

April 28th, 2009 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Richa Sharma
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) Put in jail when just two along with her family members during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots here, Amarjeet Kaur, 24, is ready to bury the past so that her child can have a brighter future.

Three members of her family were killed in the riots that broke out after then prime minister Indira Gandhi was killed by two Sikh bodyguards.

Over two dozen of Amarjeet’s relatives were jailed. She was too young to remember those days of terror when over 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the capital. But the scars remain deep in this resident of west Delhi’s Tilak Vihar, the area where many riot victims were resettled after they lost their homes to the mobs.

“I was too small that time to understand the things. As I grew up I was told that I was put in jail along with other family members for no reasons other than for being a Sikh. I was shocked to know the reality but later realised that it was no use to carry forward the grudge,” Amarjeet, mother of a two-year-old girl, told IANS.

“Now, I have a family and a child to look after and I am more concerned about their future. Following the tragedy I did not get many opportunities to fulfil my dreams of becoming a teacher, but I certainly want to give quality education to my daughter so that she can pursue her dreams.

“I am no more interested in taking forward my father, grandfather and uncle’s fight for justice. The issue is being played every time during elections by political parties just for the sake of votes. I will vote for a candidate who promises development in the area.”

Amarjeet’s is not a lone voice of change in the area occupied by over 1,000 families of 1984 riot victims.

“I was born a year after the riots took place and my parents were shifted to Tilak Vihar. There were no good schools in the area and I had to leave the school after tenth standard to support the family. Now I am studying through open schooling and looking forward to a good job,” said 24-year-old Beant Singh, who works as a helper in a local cloth shop.

Ask Beant about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and he says: “Whatever happened happened. How long can we cry for the past? Our lives were spoilt. We could neither study nor do anything.”

Local rickshaw puller Surinder Singh asks: “What has my father gained from the legal fight for justice? One political party gave us hope while the other assured justice but after elections all were gone. I will vote for a party that ensures employment to my children.”

“I don’t care about any political party and will vote for a candidate who ensures development, employment and education for all,” Nirmal Kaur, who will be voting for the first time as Delhi holds balloting for the Lok Sabha polls May 7, told IANS.

A majority of the men here in the 20-25 age group are illiterate or school dropouts.

Babu Singh Dukhiya, who runs a welfare organisation for the riot victims in Tilak Vihar, says: “There was only one Punjabi medium primary school in the area and that too till the fifth standard when we shifted here in 1985. Most of the students left education after Class 5, for most of the other schools denied admission as they were not able to speak Hindi or English.

“The riots ruined lives of several children and youths in the area. None of our children could get quality education and they are working as labourers, rickshaw pullers or helpers in shops. Most of them are drug addicts.

“They are no more interested in fighting the injustice done to Sikhs as they feel it will be of no use. They want to earn money so that they can give all comforts to their children,” said 52-year-old Dukhiya in his single-room flat, where he stays with his five children.

Tilak Vihar is in the West Delhi constituency where the two leading contenders in the poll are Mahabal Mishra of the Congress and Jagdish Mukhi of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at richa.s@ians.in)

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