Affidavit submitted before Misra Commission

                                 I, Aseem Shrivastava, the above named deponent, do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under: 

1.                  That I was residing at the above address at the time of the riots in November, 1984.  I was at that time a student of the Delhi School of Economics.  Since then I have finished my MA.  I am currently working as a research assistant at the “Center for Science and Environment” in Nehru Place.

2.                  That myself and many of my friends were actively involved in relief and rehabilitation programmes initiated for the riot-victims during the first few months after the riots.

3.                  I first got the news of the attack on the late Prime Minister in a class room at the Delhi School of Economics at about noon on October 31, 1984.  The first feeling was one of disbelief.  But soon after, the news was confirmed from a number of authoritative sources including the AIR.

4.                  Some of us went to a friend’s place later in the afternoon.  On the way, we saw many people glued to transistors or reading special newspaper supplements trying to confirm the news they had heard.  But not for a moment did any of us fear any violence – because we did not sense it in the mood of the people we came across. They were shocked and mournful surely not violent.

5.                  Late in the evening (at around 9 P.M.) however, we sensed the first signs of the violent repercussions of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. My friends were dropping me to the bus- stop near the Delhi Zoo. On way we were met with a bunch of youngmen shouting aggressive, communal slogans such as “let no Sikh be spared” and “Throw the Sikhs out” etc.

6.                  On my way home by bus, I saw some vehicles burning near Bhogal and Ashram (on Mathura Road) and small groups of nefarious looking youngmen armed with lathis / rods etc. stopping passing vehicles and peeping inside looking for Sikhs.

7.                  Upon reaching home, the news of widespread Anti-Sikh violence in the city was confirmed by a variety of people who called us up from different parts of the city.

8.                  On November 1, 1984, I woke up to bad news; communal frenzy had engulfed our colony too. As early as 8:30 A.M. in the morning one saw a lot of smoke billowing from near the Gurdwara in Tamur Nagar. We were told by some pedestrians on the road that the Gurdwara had, in fact, been set on fire.

9.                  Soon enough, there was smoke all around. Vehicles and houses of Sikhs were being burnt amidst yells and shouts. I walked down the road opposite my house towards Bharat Nagar (a cluster of shops and houses where milkmen etc. reside). At the end of the road was a burning DTC bus (Route No.403), which had allegedly belonged to a Sikh and was thus, being burnt. There were several other vehicles, scooter rickshaws, taxis and private cars, which were burning along the road known as Eastern Avenue.

10.             There were at least two large mobs, of about 500 – 600 people each, which were going around New Friends Colony looting and burning the vehicles and houses of Sikhs. I, alongwith a few friends, followed one of the mobs around the colony. The first thing which struck us was that the mob was not an angry one. On the contrary, it seemed to be jubilant that “at last the Sikhs were being taught a lesson.”

11.             The attack on Sikhs and their property in our locality appeared to be an extremely organized affair. A man in the mob was carrying a piece of paper which had all the addresses of Sikhs in New Friends Colony. This list was being consulted to single out the houses to be attacked. There were also some youngmen on motorcycles, who were instructing the mobs and supplying them with kerosene oil from time to time. On more than a few occasions we saw auto-rickshaw arriving with several tins of kerosene oil and other inflammable material such as jute-sacks.

12.             Before burning the houses, the mob systematically looted all the property it could possible cart away. There was no sign of hurry in their actions. It was almost as though they knew that the law and order enforcing authorities were not going to interfere in the looting and arsoning. This, as we soon realized was true. We tried to contact the police who were seen here and there, as well as at the Police Thana, New Friends Colony, many, many times. But it was either very difficult to get through to the telephone numbers flashed on the television or the police at the other end simply denied any help, plending that they had ‘other’ duties to perform. At one point in the afternoon we approached a retired IPS officers for help when we saw a police van outside his residence in C-Block. His Aide told us that the policemen were there for his personal security and could not interfere in the affairs of the rest of the colony. In fact, a house, which is almost opposite the house of this officer was looted and partially burnt. The policemen stood there, watching the mob indulge in looting and burning.

13.             The rioting continued till about 6:30 P.M. in the evening. The army arrived soon after and curfew was imposed.

14.             At night, there was a strong rumour that the water supply to Delhi had been poisoned by disaffected Sikhs. This rumour, which ultimately proved to be entirely unfounded, succeeded in whipping up considerable Anti-Sikh feeling in our locality, even amongst so-called educated people. At this point I would consider it obligatory on my part to say that I did not see any Sikh distributing sweets to celebrate Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination or dead bodies of Hindus arriving in Delhi in trains. Nor did I meet anyone who had personally seen such things. Whosoever talked about such happenings had only heard about such incidents from others. And yet, practically everyone was talking about such events, especially the ones who tried to justify the rioting or partook in it directly.

15.             On November 2, 1984, we attended meetings throughout the day to form peace – committees and patrolling squads. There was no further violence on this day. The army was conspicuously present unlike on the previous day.

16.             On November 3, 1984, a youngman, from Bharat Nagar whose name I do not know, told my father that we should not be bothering to form peace-committees etc. that ‘our’ property would not be touched; “if even you lose even a pin, you can get it from me.” He told my father that ‘they’ had planned on teaching a ‘small’ lesson to the Sikhs but the matter had got out of hand.”

17.             In the afternoon I met a State Bank employee from Bharat Nagar (whose name I cannot recall 10 months later). He took me through the small lanes of Bharat Nagar and showed me how everyone was “well-prepared” for a reprisal by the Sikhs. What I saw horrified me. From children (4-5 years old) to elders (75-80 years of age) everyone was armed with some lethal weapons or another: either rods, lathis, knives or swords. This  man told me not to worry and requested me to dispense with the idea of peace-committees and that ‘they’ (the people of Bharat Nagar) will protect the colony from a Sikh reprisal.

18.             In the afternoon on the same day, I met a Sikh family (from A-50, New Friends Colony) who were taking refuge in our neighbours’ house. They had left their own house on the morning of November 1, for fear of attack on their life and property. (Their house, in fact, was attacked on the 1st and just about everything was looted. The servants, however, managed to save the house from being burnt by the arsonists).

19.             On November 4, 1984, alongwith many of my friends, I went to Lajpat Bhawan (Moolchand) from where relief and rehabilitation work was being organized for riot – victims.

20.             For the next 8-9 weeks I worked at a relief camp for Trans-Yamuna riot victims in Farash Bazar (New Shahdara). My experience at the relief camp was equally (if not more) horrifying.

21.             My very first memory of Farash Bazar (i.e. of November 4, 1984) in that of a terror-stricken, dazed lot of people – wailing women and children, men (some of whom had even got their hair and beard shaved off) physically hurt, some of them blood still pouring forth, old people looking very lost….all in all some 3000-3500 fugitives, all Sikhs. They had been brought to Farash Bazar after the army rescued them from their homes in Trilokpuri and nearby areas on 3rd November 1984.

22.             Over the next few weeks we carried out a lot of relief work, distributing food, clothing and other necessities to the victims. During the course of our work we heard an endless number of sordid tales about the Anti-Sikh violence in Trans-Yamuna areas, which followed Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. From the evidence, which was coming forth, it was plain that the violence in Trans-Yamuna areas had been organized. There was a pattern to the killings. People were felled with lathis/rods/bricks, kerosene was thenpoured upon them and they were set fire to. Almost every victim pointed out the role of the police – they either colluded with the miscreants actively or watched passively as the mobs indulged in arsoning and killing.

23.             For volunteers like us, there was no reason for disbelieving the accounts given by the victims. A terrorized community is not prone to lying and / or exaggeration. Taken at face value the cumulative evidence points over-whelmingly towards a high level of planning and organization behind the violent happenings following Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination.