The JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar found himself cornered today after his observation on 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots angered a significant chunk of fellow Indians, including the ones who had supported his act of dissent. While expressing his views during a discussion on “Voices of Azaadi” at a festival organised to celebrate the birth anniversary of late Professor Bipan Chandra on Monday, Kanhiya compared the alleged attacks on universities with the 2002 Gujarat riots. According to him, both the attacks were carried out with the “support” of the State machinery.
Things had not gone out of hand till then. However, Kanhaiya made an assertion that there was a difference between the 2002 Gujarat riots and the 1984 Sikh massacre. He elucidated that the “violence in Gujarat was carried out through the State machinery, and the anti-Sikh riots were a result of mob frenzy”. The JNUSU president went on to add, “There is a fundamental difference between a mob killing a common man and a massacre through State machinery”.
Twitter Reacts, Criticizes Kanhiya’s Comment
As soon as the news broke out, the people on social media came down heavily on the JNUSU President and questioned his knowledge on important events in the history of India. More importantly, all the journalists turned against Kanhaiya and “disowned him today for blabbering nonsense”. One of the renowned journalists said that Kanhaiya is ruining brand JNU. According to him, “If this is the insight on 1984 riots by a PhD. scholar, his teachers’ CVs should be verified”.
Some of the political observers and columnists on Twitter dished out several write-ups and reports arguing against Kanhaiya. They refuted his claim by stating “how senior leaders from the Congress sanctioned the organised violence” against the Sikhs. Some of them were quick to observe that Kanhiaya is now playing “to the tunes of corrupt Congress leaders” and working as a Congress agent by “justifying killing of innocent sikhs”. Others were of the opinion that if Kanhaiya Kumar believes that state machinery was not used to kill Sikhs, “he has bigger problems than ideological idiocy!”.
What did the Nanavati Commission Report Say?
The Nanavati Commission had raised three significant questions after their investigation into the riots that seem to prove that the 1984 riots was not mob fury as Kanhaiya Kumar would like to believe.
Firstly, despite the then army chief agreeing to give his consent for extending military assistance to the Delhi administration if asked for, the troops were not deployed. In his defence, the former Delhi Police commissioner, Subhash Tandon, had said that there were not enough army personnel in Delhi, which was later proved to be a wrong assumption. The commission had concluded that if troops were called in on the morning of 1 November 1984, more than 2,000 people would not have been killed.
Secondly, the commission found enough evidence to suggest that the mobs were well organised. They “had come in DTC buses” and other vehicles belonging to the state transport corporation. Interestingly, the attackers were also “armed with some white powder or were supplied with such materials”. The powder, which was believed to be white phosphorous, is a volatile substance and not stocked in houses or ordinary shops. The commission questioned how did such substance suddenly become available to mobs in Delhi?
The commission had also noted that “instructions were issued” on the night of 31 October on how Sikhs were to be killed. In fact, “assurances were given that the police would not interfere”. It was suspected that the orders to carry this out were “issued from a single point of command”. A similar report on the riots had concluded: “During the period under survey, the legitimate authorities were superseded and decision-making powers were assumed by a few individual Congress leaders”.
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