A Meeting With Bibi Jagdish Kaur, Survivor Of November 1984
A Meeting With Bibi Jagdish Kaur, Survivor Of November 1984
The mass killing of Sikhs on 31stNovember 1984 shook the whole world. Tyres were put around the necks of Sikh youth and set alight. Sikh women were made widows. Children were made orphans. The homes, assets and business of the Sikhs were burnt down while the Delhi throne laughed. This Sikh genocide by the ruling majority of India was pre-planned. The chosen MPs and MLAs were leading the killers. 26 years have passed and the government has failed to deliver justice to the Sikh victims, instead the killers have been given high positions in the government. Bibi Jagdish Kaur has been trying to get justice for the merciless killing of her family members from the courts of India since 1984. Once a happy healthy home of Bibi Jagdish Kaur turned into a graveyard within few moments by the killers.
Sardar Kehar Singh, husband of Bibi Jagdish Kaur worked at an army workshop under the post of a Gun Fitter. Along with her 2 sons and 3 daughters, they lived happily in their house, 129 Shiv Mandir Marg, Palam Colony, Raj Nagar Part 1, New Delhi. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, in November 1984 what happened to Bibi Jagdish Kaur is written in this article which was printed in the Kaumi Nishane Magazine (Translated by www.1984tribute.com).
When did you find out about the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi?
On 31stOctober at about 10-11am we had guests come to the house. They said that there was a traffic jam on the road opposite the All India Medical Institute. Someone had shot Indira Gandhi. It was clear by 12-1pm. Government buildings, schools and colleges had been shut as the children had come home. My husband had also come home from office. The live news was coming in the television. Teen Murti Bhavan, where Indira Gandhi’s residence was, her body was also kept there. Next to her body stood her son, Rajiv Gandhi and a Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachan. Rest of the Congress leaders were seated. At that moment Amitabh Bachan shouted a slogan, “Avenge blood with blood.” Then a reply from the crowd came, “The splashed will cover their houses.” And in the evening, Rajiv Gandhi was made Prime Minister.
When did you find out about the genocide of Sikhs was being carried out?
On the morning of 1stNovember at 9am, a lawyer friend of my son (Gurpreet Singh) came to the house. He said, “Aunty Uncle, don’t let Gurpreet leave the house.” When I asked why he said that the Sikhs were taken off the train at the Palam Station and burnt alive. After he had left, me and my son Gurpreet went to the roof of our house and saw the house of Sikhs on fire. The Sikh houses, cars, businesses and Gurdwaras were being burnt down. The killers of the Sikhs were in big groups and were shouting slogans, “Kill Sikh terrorists, Kill Sikh traitors, Don’t spare even one Sikh.”
What did you do to save your family?
I sent my daughters and youngest son (Gurdeep Singh) to next door neighbours, who were Pandits (Hindus) and I locked all the doors at our house. The attackers started to break our gates. My husband, my elder son and I were inside the house. Some attackers jumped the wall and came into our house. Doors and windows were broken. To kill my husband and my son they hit them with rods, swords and spears until they were covered in blood. Gurpreet ran out into the ally, where the attackers threw petrol on him and set him on fire. My husband was killed inside the house. I was begging the attackers to spare my son and husband. No one listened to me.
From the attackers that killed your family, do you recognise anyone?
Yes! Congress leader, Paramvir, Balwan Khokhar, Maha Sio (Grocery Shop), Chand Sharabi and Saroj Devi were guiding the attackers. I ran to Saroj Devi and said, “Sister what are you doing? You come to our house many times.” And the reply was, “Go away and take a seat. You are no longer a Sardarni. From now on you will work as a servant.”
The group of killers burnt our house and left. All the valuables were taken. Soon as they left I saw my son burning outside the house and I went up to him and I told him, “Son the last moment has come keep Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj in your heart and he will look after you.” Gurpreet said, “Satnam Waheguru” and died in front of my eyes. When I came back into the house I saw my husband, his face had totally been crushed and had passed away also. At this moment my brother who had a haircut and was hiding in house nearby came to me. With his help I put my son’s burnt body on a bed and carried it back in the house.
Did you inform the police of this?
I myself went to the Sadh Nagar Police Station and told them everything, the present ASI officer said to me, “Yet many more are going to die. When all are dead, we will write it all at once.”
Were your other children safe?
When I came back from the police station my neighbours kicked my children out of their house fearing their own safety. Then I took my 3 daughters and younger son to the roof and told them to remain lying down and not to come downstairs even if someone kThe killers were extremely drunk and all night they kept shouting slogans. I sat next to the dead bodies of my husband and son.
On the morning of 2ndNovember, my brothers, Narinderpal Singh, Raghwinder Singh and Kuldeep Singh were hiding in the house opposite ours signalled to ask what happened. I signalled then to remain hidden. But when my brothers saw that no one was in the ally then jumped the walls and came towards me. One of the killers, Mahavir who was hiding in his house saw my brothers and shouted, “Look at those Thekedars, they are running.” Straight away my brother, Narinderpal Singh was surrounded by rod wielding gang and had petrol thrown at him. In front of my eyes they burnt my brother. My other brothers, Raghwinder Singh and Kuldeep Singh ran away from there but they were caught and also burnt alive.
Even after all these atrocities, did the police or the army not come?
The police were with attackers. On 2ndNovember I was on my way to the police station, but I met a young man who has his face covered. He said, “Aunty, MP Sajjan Kumar is ahead of us. Let’s speak to him, he will help us.” I realised that this young man was a Sikh, who also was a friend of my son Gurpreet. Both of us went to the ground of the Mandir opposite the Dada Shatri Marg and saw 10 men including MP Sajjan Kumar aside from the crowd talking. When these 10 men came onto the road, MP Sajjan Kumar got onto a police which had a speaker. He made an announcement, “These bloody Sikhs, not one of them should be spared. A Hindu that hides them in their house, kill them too and burn their houses.” I was 20 feet away seeing and hearing this. The Congress MP, Sajjan Kumar then left. An in-charge from the police station, who was with 6 constables and a driver shouted, “Curfew has been put in place, if we see them we will shoot them.” I came back home. Sometime later, that same police jeep came and stopped outside my house. The same police officer came out of the jeep and looked at the bodies of my husband and son. Then the officer started laughing and appreciated the killers by saying, “How many chickens have you roasted?” Later my brother with a haircut came in an army Sikh Regiment jeep and he insisted I go with him to the Parade Ground, by then my sisters-in law had also come. I refused to go. Till I didn’t cremate my husband and my son I didn’t go, I sent my children and my sisters-in law to the Parade Ground. Army officer Yadav on my say sent Major Bhattia to my house because I wanted to inform office of my husband EME 505 Workshop. Major Bhattia took me to the Army HQ to meet the General. But the General went out the back door without meeting me. Then Major Bhattia took me to Parade Ground but I wanted to go home. Major Bhattia was scared to drop me at home. He said, “These killers will think I’m your relative and kill me.” On my pressure and on the orders of Major Yadav, I was dropped off at the police station. I was at the police station when the senior officer came and he was with the killers. They were discussing, “In Part 2 there are 10 houses of Sikhs remaining, what we are going to do about them?” The senior officer replied, “Go and attack them, I am coming.” The attackers left and short while after the senior officer also left. I also started to walk towards my house. On the way I was surrounded by one of the group of attackers, one attacker shouted, “Kill her, she is a Sikh” then another attacker said, “Leave her, her whole family has been killed, she will die by going mental.” When I got home in the dark, the bodies of my husband and son were still there.
Then I made my mind up to leave my house. I decided to go to the house of a colleague of my husband, Om Parkash whose house I did not know. I went to the main road nearby and after asking about for the address of Om Parkash I went to his house. I asked Om Parkash, “Brother, can I stay at your house tonight?” Om Parkash was scared and replied, “Of course sister, this is your house.” But he set me up a bed in a shop nearby which he was using for storage. All night I heard gun shots and cries of people. At times I would lift the shutter of the shop and see Sikh houses on fire and hear screaming. Nearby was the house of Akhand Kirtani Bhai Makhan Singh whose house and family were also burnt. In the morning I came back to my house. Some of the sympathising neighbours saw me at home and came to me to say, “Sister, it’s been 3 days what do you want to do with these bodies?” With their help I gathered all the wooden furniture from my house and the neighbours also bought some wood from their homes. With all this wood they started to cremate my husband and my son and told me go inside. While I was doing my Ardas the attackers came back and when they saw me they started to loudly laugh. Some men standing nearby said to the attackers, “Why are you laughing. Don’t look at her quietness, look into her eyes. She is like a wounded lioness, who can eat you anytime.” When we set fire to the bodies, the attackers started shouting slogans of victory.
Did you stay at home after?
After that I went to the house of Om Parkash. They took me to the police station, where the Air Force soldiers were taking Sikh survivors to Sadar Bazar Cantt Gurdwara. It is here I had my report written, in which I gave the names of MP Sajjan Kumar, Balram Khokar, Gardari, Captain Bhagmal, Dharmveer and Saroj Devi. The writing police officer threatened me, “Are you in the right state of mind? Saying the names of such big people, where will you take the rest of your family?” I answered, “We don’t want to live, write that also.” Then I went back to the Gurdwara, but my children were out of my reach. There I asked one of the soldiers to give me the address of Major Yadav, and they took me to the house where I saw my children and sisters-in law. That night I stayed there.
Did you go back to your house?
The next morning at 8 o’clock I took my children to the Gurdwara of Sadar Bazar Cantt, where all the Sikh survivors were gathered. By the evening all our surviving relatives had gathered here. After staying in Delhi for 40-50 days, I took my children to Amritsar, Punjab. For 3 months we stayed at the Gurdwara Ramsar Sran room No 50. Then we passed time by living on rent. In 1988, we bought our own place and built a room to live in. I married my 3 daughters from here.
What are you doing to get justice?
From 1984 till today I am fighting a legal case, I have faced many obstacles and have been threatened of my life many times. I have faith in Waheguru and that’s why I am still fighting. To scare me, the killers from Delhi with money, influence and power have tried many things to make me quiet and even till today I have been threatened. Death itself came to our doorstep and walked away, we were killed the day the Indian government killed my husband and my son in front of my very own eyes. Now we are only alive to fulfil our responsibilities.
Kaumi Nishane – November 2010