Hyderabad: On Sunday night, when rumours flew thick and fast across northeast Delhi about fresh trouble, Sardar Khushpal Singh, a 27-year-old resident of Harinagar, suggested to the Sikh community members to take cover in nearby gurudwaras for safety. “We will all be together in the gurudwara which will keep us safe,” he said even as the sound of sirens from passing police patrol vehicles filled the air.
But the elders in the community — who had seen worse earlier — had a word of caution. During the 1984 riots, taking shelter in gurudwaras what had proved costly for hundreds of Sikhs. Back then, they were told by policemen to leave the gurudwaras and return home, “assuring” them all was well. When they started leaving the place of worship, they came under brutal attack by blood-thirsty mobs. To this day, many Sikhs allege that police deliberately asked them to leave the gurudwaras.
As tensions continue to simmer in parts of northeast Delhi, the Sikh community members neither depended on the Delhi police nor did they leave anything to chance — just in case they were to come under attack from any mob. The community drew up with their own strategies and precautionary measures to ensure safety of thousands of people who live in areas close to Bhajanpura, the epicentre of last week’s riots which left 47 dead and over 300 injured. Only, this time, their strategies were chalked out keeping in mind the 1984 pogrom in which 3,000 Sikhs died in Delhi alone.
“Wherever our community members were living in societies, we had entry and exit points closed. The next challenge was what would we do if we came under attack by the mobs. Every night, we assembled in our societies with our kirpans (daggers), sticks and other objects and were prepared to thwart any attempt to target us,” Mr Khushpal Singh, who runs a manufacturing unit in Delhi, told Deccan Chronicle over telephone. Going by the way things were spiralling out of control, they feared the community could be targeted to incite passions.
His relative in Hyde-rabad, Sardar Roshan Singh, has been calling up Khushpal’s family requesting them to come to Hyderabad but he refused saying there was nothing to worry and they would be safe as they are “fully prepared”.
“When it was suggested that all Sikhs can take shelter in gurudwaras if they feel unsafe in their houses, the elders recalled the 1984 riots and said it would be a grave mistake. The Delhi police cannot be trusted and therefore, we should stay back in our homes, but make arrangements for securing the Sikhs,” said Maninderpal Singh, who runs an automobile business in Delhi....