Generation 1984: Living With the Horrors of the Anti-Sikh Riots
(This story was first published on 30 October 2017. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the day a 1984 riots convict was sentenced to death.)
Dilbagh Singh’s Audi Q7 is just too big for the narrow roads of Tilak Vihar in West Delhi. But everyone here knows his car. He’s the local boy who became a Punjabi singing sensation.
Just like the 900 families living here in Tilak Vihar, commonly known as "widows’ colony", Dilbagh lost his two uncles and elder brother in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Though he has moved out to a better life and a bigger home in nearby Vikaspuri, yet the horrors of 1984 still haunt him.
Dilbagh is one of the rare success stories of Tilak Vihar, where almost 90 percent of his generation, who were 10 to 16-years-old in 1984, could do nothing with their lives. When the survivors of the riots were resettled in Tilak Vihar, the women were also given low-level government jobs, this was their only means to earn a living.
Lakhvinder Kaur’s son Kirpal Singh was 10-years-old in 1984. Since he was the eldest child in the family, he had to start earning to support his mother. But that came at a huge cost! At a young age, a truck driver gave him opium, and soon he was addicted. An addiction he still suffers from.
Many like Dilbagh allege that post-1984, drugs came freely and easily into Tilak VIhar as part of a ploy by the politicians and officials. They wanted to pacify the youth so that they couldn’t rise and plot revenge after the riots. And the easiest way to do it was to numb them mentally through drugs. Many of these people are now dead, most died in their early 30s.
Those who were in their teens in the mid-80s never got a decent education, they got too busy surviving, although barely.
More than three decades after the anti-Sikh riots, Tilak VIhar is still reeling under the aftermath of the riots. Even the current generation, those who are in their mid-20s are facing the same problems as their parents.
The current generation of youth living in Tilak Vihar have inherited the scars and trauma of the anti-Sikh riots, nothing much has changed here. Clearly their life is no different from their fathers, and are still suffering from the trauma of 1984.
Correspondent & Producer: Tridip K Mandal
Cameraperson: Abhay Sharma
Camera Assistant: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra