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Scorched - White Lilies of '84 - Book By Reema Anand
Foreword To 'Scorched White Lilies of '84' By Reema Anand
The year 1984 was traumatic in the history of the Sikh community. Punjab was witnessing major changes with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale taking extremism to an extreme. This extreme was never even imagined by Indira Gandhi and Zail Singh when they brought Bhindranwale onto the political stage, to pose a major challenge to the Akali vote bank.
Naive Punjabis could not read the politics of Congress, Akalis and Bhindranwale properly and fell into a trap of religious and emotional vortex. The result was Operation Blue Star in june 1984,when along with militancy, Sikh sentiments were routed by the Indian Army and the Centre by the invading the sacred premises of Harmandir Sahib and killing thousands of innocent pilgrims.
It, in turn, led to the shooting down of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by the Sikh bodyguards.
Subsequently, we saw Delhi burning, as mobs led by Congress bigwigs hounded Sikhs out of their homes, burnt them alive and reped their daughters and women, and torched their properties. The genocide was taken to other states and trains leading from and to Delhi. The State was a silent spectator.
Rajiv Gandhi defended the havoc by commenting:'When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes.'
The Sikh residue after the riots, in pockets like Trilokpuri, Mongolpuri, Nandnagri and Sultanpuri, were never really rehabilitated. As a compensation, Tilak Vihar arose among the debris of human sentiments, scarred minds and limbs. The Sikh population which migrated from various torched areas into Tilak Vihar continues to exist in a limbo even after twenty-five years of the soul scorching event.
This book is Knitted fabric of my discovery of Tilak Vihar, where the first colony for anti-Sikh riot Victims was set up the Congress government. The orphans of yesteryears have now grown into mature women. Their characters have been dealt with individually, and interwoven with their lifestyles, their hopes and their disappointments in life. These are ordinary women, similar to those found in a lower income group, yet different, as they carry deep scars and unpleasant memories of what '84 and post-'84 brought to them.
The book was never intended to take this form, but unconsciously it has become a huge collection of emotions of these adopted girls. Life ceased to be a long-term planning for them on that dark and fateful night of 31 October 1984. Since then their lives have become one of daily survival, of toiling for their daily bread, one that just denotes existential living.
The settlement is more or less a slum, especially in some parts of an ever-growing and expanding Tilak Vihar.
I have purposely used the word 'slum' to bring out the stark reality, show the community the mirror, and hurt the Sikh psyche, the Sikh pride. What some section of the ruling commumity did to the Sikhs all over India on those three fateful nights is nothing compared to the distress and damage brought upon the sufferers and survivors of the riots by the Sikh community itself.
Sikhism-the very spirit of this religion goes against the meaning and contents of the word slum. The Gurus never preached castes. Unfortunately, the modern propounders of Sikhism, in the grab of providing justice to the victims of 1984 riots, have given birth to the first caste-ridden slum in the history of Sikhs. With a psyche of a beggar, an average citizen of Tilak Vihar Doesn,t know what 'chardi Kala' means in Sikhism. For here the fight is for mere survival. The slum township is riddled with castes and sub-castes that further add to the mess that the locality is in today.
From The Backcover Of 'Scorched - White Lilies of '84' By Reema Anand
The tragic tale of the massacre of nearly 5,000 Sikhs following the assassination of Mrs Gandhi on 31 October 1984 has not yet ended.
We shall have no clear account of what happened to the survivors of the holocaust. Thousands of families lost all they owned along with their breadwinners. Many more thousands were scarred for life.
Wounds inflicted have yet to be healed. Reema Anand has carried the tale to its conclusion by telling us how the victims are coping with life, what is being done for them and how much remains undone. Highly informative and readable.
Introduction To 'Scorched - White Lilies of '84' By Reema Anand
History has always been a mute spectator to the deeds and misdeeds of people across generations. Twenty-five years after the Sikh genocide took place in the capital of India and other states, this book is a tribute to those orphans and wives of victims who have struggled endlessly to live life in a respectable way.
Fighting drug addiction spreading in their vicinity and battling the major obstacle of lack of finances, these women/girls have taken upon themselves to do their best.
This book is a collection of emotions and traumas of the survivors of 1984 relevant to the Sikh community. If one small project could rehabilitate eighteen girls and their children at one period of time for three consecutive years, why can't the Sikh community join hands and rehabilitate the families of those who suffered and are still suffering?
About The Author Of 'Scorched - White Lilies of '84' By Reema Anand
Born and brought up in Punjab, Reema Anand has a Master's degree in english literature and a post graduate diploma in NGO management. She started as a journalist and has been writing with major dailies like Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Tribune and The Times of India. Also a film-maker, she has made a number of documentaries bringing to life unacknowledged heroes and issues of importance. A person deeply involved in working for various social causes, she has authored various books.