New Delhi: A new anthology seeks to examine all aspects of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots by combining non-fiction pieces with fictional stories.
“1984: In Memory and Imagination – Personal Essays and Stories on the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots”, edited by Vikram Kapur and brought out by Amaryllis Publishing House, examines the human narrative of 1984 with stories, both real and imagined, of men and women whose lives were altered by that tragic chain of events and who continue to live with them to this day.
“While nonfiction probes the changing psyche of society by scrutinising the factual history of the times, fiction catches the horror of what happened by giving the human story a number of unforgettable faces,” says Kapur.
“There are pieces that zero in on that moment in history. Others remind us of how it continues to fester in the lives of several people to this day. And still others view it in terms of its ramifications for Indian politics and society,” he says.
In his essay “1984: An Overview 3”, the then Punjab DGP Kirpal Dhillon says the events of 1984 epitomise the conceptual and functional make-up of an autocratic and oppressive state.
“The cumulative after-effects of the grievous events of 1984 in India would last for decades and the ensuing frictions and fissures in social and political terms would continue to seriously damage the institutions of governance and their dynamism,” he writes.
He says his appointment as Punjab police chief on July 3, 1984 placed him at a vantage point where he was both a close observer of a series of very disturbing events, pursuant to the Army intervention in the state, and an active participant in helping resolve some very grave issues that arose therefrom.
“Apart from my normal charter of duties as the police chief in a strategic border state, I was also, I was told, a part of the healing process, designed to soothe the hurt and anger among the Sikh people due to the abrasive conduct of the troops during Operation Blue Star in the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, and Operation Wood Rose in the countryside.”