Sorry Kanhaiya, We Can’t Agree With You On 1984: Responses from Shehla Rashid and Sucheta De

Here are two responses on Kanhaiya’s statement differentiating between 1984 and 2002. One from JNUSU Vice-President and the Other from Sucheta De, a prominent leader of All India Students’ Association

Shehla Rashid:

Been getting a lot of calls from journalists and common students regarding the statement made by Comrade Kanhaiya on the 1984 vs. 2002 issue. Friends, I was not present at the event where he reportedly made the statement, as I was with the JNUSU delegation to NHRC on HCU & Calicut issue till late evening. I’m not sure whether his statement is being correctly reported, but if you ask my position on the issue, I would just say that both 1984 and 2002 were acts of state sponsored violence and we must not draw contrasts between two human tragedies. We have equally spoken up against state sponsored violence, be it by the Left front government in Bengal, the Congress government or the BJP governments. That is what makes us “Left”. The survivors of 1984 state sponsored communal pogrom deserve all our support and we must refrain from making any statement that undermines their struggle for justice. In 1984 also, the JNU campus not only opposed the violence, but even sheltered some of the Sikhs who were running for cover. We have spoken out against Gujarat as vocally as against Hashimpura and Singur-Nandigram. We cannot prejudge the case and give a clean chit to the state, when there has been no credible investigation into the whole affair. The survivors of the 1984 pogrom are demanding precisely that– a fair investigation into the role of the state. Just as the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi endorsed the 2002 pogrom by saying that “each action has an equal and opposite reaction”, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi endorsed the 1984 killings by saying that “when a mighty tree falls, the earth shakes”. One can’t discount the role of the state on 1984 pogrom because it was in reaction to the murder of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, which itself was triggered by the state brutalities under Operation Blue Star. We must not be apologetic about 1984 massacre, but must unequivocally condemn it. We shouldn’t leave this space for the right-wing to milk, because, while the right-wing pretends to be concerned about 1984, they are actually only shielding Modi over 2002, and nothing else. Ask them if they oppose the Operation Blue Star itself, and they will have no answers. While we stand united in the students’ struggles against fascism, we must keep healthy debate and discussion alive, as that is what characterises the Left.

Sucheta De:

Sorry Kanhaiya, can’t agree. Left and progressive student movements that have emerged today in India, will not give a clean chit to congress for the 1984 pogrom. Why should a left leader try to defend the congress government’s role in the anti-sikh riots, something that even Rahul Gandhi and his party can not defend?

To say that 1984 riots were mob frenzy and not state sponsored would only justify the ‘big tree falls’ theory regarding sikh massacre.

We belong to different streams of the left. Earlier also differences on several issues have emerged. During the course of anti-fascist struggle we have maintained our differences and moved ahead with unity- but the stand that you have taken regarding the 1984 pogrom is very wrong and does injustice to the thousands of innocent people killed during those riots. According to the testimonies recorded by the Misra commission, Kamal Nath minister of commerce during UPA government,led a mob at Gurudwara Rakabganj, where two sikhs were burnt to death. Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, Kamal Nath and many others- you very well know which party they belong to. Yet you say that 1984 was mob frenzy ??

Kusum Lata Mittal who was part of a two member committee constituted to look into the role of police officers in 1984 riots had indicted 72 police officers, including 6 IPS officers- yet you say that 1984 was mob frenzy and not state sponsored ??
And also regarding emergency, who doesn’t know that emergency was evoked to silence dissent against Indira Gandhi’s government- BJP is doing the same.

What we need to do is to stand by the survivors of the anti Sikh pogrom, rather than giving congress a clean chit.