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10 thoughts on “I Accuse

  1. says:

    31st October 1984 I am unlikely to forget that date ever We were having semester exams; and coming out of the exam hall the news hit me like a sledgehammer our Prime Minister had been assassinatedBeing a leftist I was none too sorry at Indira Gandhi's passing She had proved herself to be dictator during the Emergency declared in 1975 For two years she had ruled India as a dictator curbing all civil freedoms and ruthlessly eliminating all opponents But in India we had never expected our head of state to be gunned down in cold blood This is what happened in all those banana republics in popular thrillers but not in our beautiful democratic country Oh no NeverBut it happened and much worse Indira had incurred the wrath of the Sikh community when she had authorised Operation Blue Star during which soldiers invaded the Sikh holy shrine the Golden Temple of Amritsar and killed the separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale In the process the shrine was heavily damaged and many Sikhs lost their lives Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguard had shot her dead at point blank range in retaliationAfter Indira's death we in the south did not get much news other than there had been some violence against Sikhs but we didn't take it very seriously because the Sikh community was virtually nonexistent in the south and except for a few minor skirmishes in Kochi and a brawl between a Sikh student and the KSU the student wing of Indira's party the Indian National Congress in our college In those days we only had the national news channel Doordarshan controlled by the government which was carefully blanking out the carnage happening in DelhiIn Delhi where a large number of Sikhs lived a major ethnic cleansing took place under the leadership of the Congress party With the active collusion of the police they systematically humiliated tortured and murdered around three thousand Sikhs with the active collusion of the police Many women were raped for days on end We came to know all this uite a bit later by then Indira's son Rajiv Gandhi had become the Prime Minister with the biggest mandate the country had ever seen When asked about the ethnic violence against the Sikhs he made the now infamous remark Well when a big tree falls the ground shakesI was twenty one years of age when all this happened It was a bitter coming of age for me The India of my dreams where all communities lived together in brotherhood was dead forever In this book the author who survived the massacre as an eleven year old recounts the trauma of those days It is gruelling reading especially how senior Congress leaders such as Jagdish Tytler Sajjan Kumar and H K L Bhagat openly led the mobs in the state sponsored murder and how the police openly colluded with the mobs by disarming Sikhs and allowing them to be attacked It is all written from eyewitness accounts and extremely believable The President Giani Zail Singh a Sikh was prevented from doing anything and even attacked P V Narasimha Rao the Home Minister turned a deaf ear to all entreaties and allowed the Congress mobs to murder the Sikhs with impunity It rankles all the because most of the survivors were forced to lead substandard existences with the men falling into drug habits and the women being forced to do menial labour; while the perpetrators joined the cabinet as ministersThis book is written in 2009 after Jarnail Singh gathered some notoriety for himself by throwing a shoe at the union minister P Chidambaram during a press conference It was an unprecedented action from a journalist and he was properly taken to task for it Here he regrets the action but explains what drove him to itEven after 25 years now 33 there is no justice for the victims the only silver lining being that the accused leaders were not given party tickets and Manmohan Singh the then Prime Minister a Sikh himself apologised publicly During this time however every effort at bringing the culprits to book has been thwarted by hook or by crook And the Congress has asked the Sikhs to forget forgive and move ahead easier said than done for people who have witnessed their entire families being burnt alive in front of their eyesWe witnessed a similar carnage in Gujarat in 2002 this time it was Muslims The man who allowed it to happen by closing his eyes became the Prime Minister of India in 2014 with a resounding electoral victory The status of ethnic minorities is precarious than everThe Sikhs may have moved on but India has not

  2. says:

    Merely just 176 pages this book has the power to move its reader Having read Durbar and other books on Independent India I had no high hopes from this book but I was happy to be proven wrong The book introduces us to a completely new perspective of 1984 rioting and genocide I have read enough to understand that they were planned by the ruling party then but the way this portrays it pretty good Youngsters these days should read these kind of books instead of looking up to the paid media for views and opinions Yes there has been no relief for the widows and orphans and probably it's too late for any The saddening part is that this has happened in our own country From 1984 to Ayodha Hindus have repeated what was done to them in ancient history No lessons have been learnt from history unfortunately This book is a must reada short read it may be but it will open your eyes to hundreds of lives you thought did not exist Well written

  3. says:

    Remember the journalist who threw a shoe at PC Chidambram at a press conference a few years ago? That journalist Jarnail Singh is the author of this book He was just an 11 year old kid a resident of Lajpat Nagar when he witnessed the vicious violence against Sikhs in Delhi in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination Many books have been written on the incident and the long pending justice that is still awaited by its victims and survivors than 30 years later I have not read most of those books but there is something very emotional and personal about this one For Jarnail Singh this is too close to heart The book has some editing issues but those are minor and can be overlooked; the larger sentiment is well delivered The narration of first person accounts is simple but direct It is difficult not to picture the carnage the brutality and inhumanity of the unimaginable attacks Men turned to monsters More than 30 long years later the victims' families continue to live in the long shadow of the attacks their lives upended their futures ruined relegated to peripheral rehabilitations survivors still struggling to survive though many have succumbed It serves as a reminder to everyone who was not directly affected that the victims still live on in obscure existenceThe administration's evident involvement and yet painfully slow and reluctant action to bring justice is outrageous Khushwant Singh writes in his foreword to the book that it is a must read for all those who wish that such horrendous crimes do not take place againAnd yet we see examples of the same things happening today Human life continues to hold little value in the face of what is manufactured belief asserted boundary wrenched legitimacy

  4. says:

    This was a journal of heart wrenching events from a series of incidents that should have never happened in a secular countryThese tales of state sponsored daylight murders are extremely disturbing and are often unbelievable HoweverI would have appreciated it if it had some points of analysis or different viewsThe language also felt sometimes as a word to word translation from HindiPunjabi

  5. says:

    The 1984 violence against Sikhs is a blot on India's face and indeed the travesties faced by hundreds of Sikh families were shameful for our society That is why when i started reading this book expectations were high to learn some important facts detailed information about culprits and analytical study of the genocide But rather i found painful stories of the victims and a very generalrather a vague view of the whole incidentBy the title I accuse and introduction that this phrase by a French novelist is considered as an iconic expression against injustice I had hopes that author is going to discuss many relevant points important for a democracy Our basic foundation of Constitution was challenged in this incident and Government should be uestioned for it As author is a journalist the expectation was high for an introspective study of the gory incident Sadly the book has missed a great opportunity and has rather provided us with a below than average account of incident with very little examination of the pogromAnd of course the most irritating portion was the last chapter when Mr Jarnail Singh were all into self appreciation and went on writing so much from his personal life that one starts thinking seriously about Penguins motive to publish it Mr Singh is redundant and kept on revealing incidents from his life which is of no importance to the issueThough i have not read it but will suggest readers to prefer When a tree shook Delhi by Manoj Mitta and H S Phoolka on the same topic Those interested in the Military intrusion in Golden temple should read Mark Tully's Amritsar Mrs Gandhi's last battle or K S Brar's Operation Blue Star The true story A book meant for serious issue like this need not to have wasted so many pages in stupid discussions as have done in this book There is absolutely no reason why a person should read this book other than finding painful stories of victims which was not the purpose of the book Sorry Mr Khushwant Singh but I differ from your view point about this book I felt sad not only about wasting my time by reading it but also to find that such delicate matter was handled so poorly If this book is by a journalist then we are in dire need of better professionals in this fieldPS I read the book When a tree shook delhi though even that book is not a great read but still is far better than this book Difference could be known after realizing that many incidents in both book are same yet the Tree shook Delhi was better to handle it Got for that book rather I accuse

  6. says:

    because the truth needs to be told

  7. says:

    A book that should have been written earlier than this Though I Accuse is not a perfect account of 'all the sides' of the violence it definitely tells you about the suppressed side in detail And since the book throws light on many such issues that have not been known to many and even suppressed to great extents at the time it all happened the book is a 'should read' even with the disappointing editing and a bit too emotional author that for a journalistThe book says a lot that the shoe could not say Jarnail Singh is the journalist who threw his shoe in P Chidambaram's press conference

  8. says:

    I just had little information of what had happened in 1984 sikhs will killed no arrests were made many died etc etc but didnot have even slightest idea of what victims had gone through at that time after that I had goosebumps literaly when i read the painful stories of incocent people who were killed to avenge the killing of our late prime munister and that perpetrators were and will never be punished Everyone should read this book to get aware of real terrorism that prevailed in 1984

  9. says:

    Jarnail Singh's researched account of the 1984 anti Sikh violence Gives narratives of various families that were adversely affected because of the massacre Factual but a bit unstructured and incoherent

  10. says:

    The book is truly an eye opener in terms of the accounts of individuals who went through the horrendous atrocities committed in collusion with the state Jarnail Singh's frustration and pent up anger at the injustice meted out to the community as a whole come out starkly in every page of the bookHowever in terms of it being a truly good book I am not so sure It's of a narrative of series of interviews Jarnail has conducted over a period of time The context the events leading up to the massacre are not clearly elucidated The emotional pitch of the book is so high that a logical clinical analysis of events is lost Would probably have been better to make it a chronological story instead of the six parts it's made to currentlyGuess it's not the first book you should pick up to learn about 1984

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I Accuse The unanswered uestions the justice delayed the unbearable memoriesthe three days of 1984 when over 3000 Sikhs were slaughtered have indelibly marked the lives of thousands who continue to exist in a twilight of bitterness and despair It was outrage at this state of affairs that led Jarnail Singh an unassuming law abiding journalist to throw his shoe at home minister P Chidambaram during a press conference in New Delhi He readily acknowledges that this was not an appropriate means of protest but asks why twenty five years after the massacres so little has been done to address the issues that are still unresolved and unanswered and a source of anguish to the whole community Who initiated the pogrom and why Why did the state apparatus allow it to happen Why despite the many commissions and committees set up to investigate the events have the perpetrators not been brought to book I Accuse is a powerful and passionate indictment of the state's response to the killings of 1984 It explores the chain of events the survivors' stories and the continuing shadow it casts over their lives Because finally 1984 was not an attack on the Sikh community alone; it was an attack on the idea at the very core of democracythat every citizen irrespective of faith and community has a right to life liberty and security