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The Hond Chillar Massacre

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There is a chorus from Indian politicians asking Sikhs to forgive and forget the brutal killings in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. However, these same politicians continue to shield the guilty and persecute voices demanding justice. Below is the story of Manwinder Singh Giaspura whose steadfastness gave voice to many voiceless whose death remained unacknowledged for decades by Indian authorities and whose plight was unknown to Sikh community.

In 2011, Manwinder Singh Giaspura rediscovered the site of Hond Chillar massacre where a village of Sikhs was wiped out in Haryana and no action was taken by the Indian authorities in spite of complaints. Manwinder Singh went public with the information and was removed from his well-paying job in retribution. Since then his house has been ransacked and he has been harassed by the police. His steadfast pursuit of justice led to establishment of Garg Commission. In January 2015, Manwinder Singh wrote the article below (translated from Punjabi) about the massacre and his experience with the commission.

The article below was published in the Punjabi Daily Rozana Spokesman. Manwinder Singh Giaspura can be contacted on his cell phone: 98720-99100.

"Although three decades have passed since the horror of November 1984, but these events are still fresh in the minds of the loved ones of the victims who bore the brunt. Killing toddlers by smashing their tiny bodies against walls – how can humanity fall so low? Before January 2011, I too was not fully aware of November 1984. In 1984, I was just nine years old. I had read accounts of November 1984 but none had prepared me for the beastly acts described by eye witnesses of Village Hond Chillar.

The bricks in the village cry living testimony of death after thirty years. A few houses which are still standing in the village tell tales of the terror unleashed on November 2, 1984. What had tiny brothers of Surjit Kaur done to anybody to deserve this fate? The two brothers, two year old Jasbir Singh and three year old Satbir Singh were killed by smashing their bodies against brick walls. These tiny toddlers probably didn’t even know who Sikhs are and who Hindus are. According to Police Report # 91 filed by the village headman Dhanpat the murderous mob was chanting Sikhs are traitors, we will wipe them out. What crime did the little daughters of Gian Singh of Pataudi commit? The mob gang raped them in front of everybody, urinated on their bodies before killing them.

When you step into the Hond village, you don’t need to ask anybody of what had happened. The bricks of the village scream testimony of November 2nd. You can still find scorched wheat in houses where people were burnt alive. The neighbors of these victims who today are claiming to be their sympathizers stood by and did nothing to help. The police administration felt no responsibility for saving the innocents. I am not making these things up -- this is the sworn testimony before the Garg Commission.

The hearings for Hond Chillar started in March 2011 when one-man Garg Commission was established. The Commission’s offices are in Hisar. I had to sacrifice my job to get this commission established twenty-six after the crimes were committed. In India the ritual of sacrifice [to gods] has been popular for centuries, why would this time be any different? The Haryana Government assigned Justice T.P. Garg to this commission on March 26, 2011. The Commission became operational in August. The Government had claimed that the Commission will issue its report within six months, but sadly five consecutive extensions of six month each have been issued but still no results.

We were under the impression that the Commission will investigate cases from all over Haryana. We found otherwise when victims from Gurgaon and Pataudi were denied a hearing claiming that the mandate for the commission was limited to Hond Chillar. We submitted petition number 3821 in December 2011 and based on this petition the mandate of the commission was expanded to include Gurgaon and Pataudi on July 17, 2012. The Garg Commission visited the village first time on July 26, 2013.

On May 18, 2013 Surjit Kaur submitted the list of her twelve family members to the commission who were murdered in the village. Her testimony brought all of Punjab to tears. The murdered included her: grandfather Gurdial Singh, grandmother Jamna Bai, father Arjan Singh, mother Pritam Kaur, two young brothers Jasbir Singh and Satbir Singh who were two and three years old respectively, three aunts Joginder Kaur, Jasbir Kaur and Sunita Devi, and three uncles Mohinder Singh, Gurcharan Singh and Gian Singh.

On June 4, 2013 a list containing names of 47 murdered Sikhs and 297 torched houses in Gurgaon was presented to the Commission. This was the first time the family members were able to get the names of these murder victims included in any official administration record.

On July 4, 2013 Balwant Singh presented testimony of eleven murdered family members to the Judge. The list included his: grandfather Gulab Singh, father Kartar Singh, mother Dhani Bai, brother Bhagwan Singh, sister-in law Krishna Devi, four nephews Manohar Singh, Chanchal Singh, Sunder Singh and Inder Singh, two sisters Taravanti and Veeranwali.

In August 2013 widow Bibi Kamaljit Kaur presented the account of her murdered husband Inderjit Singh who was a soldier in the Indian Army. Because of the efforts of the Hond Chiller Coordination Committee this sister has started receiving government pension.

In October 2013 Ishwari Devi testified about the murder of her father Takhat Singh.

In November 2013 Guddi Devi testified about the murder of her six family members which included her: father Sardar Singh, two brothers Harbhajan Singh and Dhan Singh, two sisters Meera Bai and Surjit Kaur and sister-in-law Dayawanti.

In December 2013 evidence of murder of Amrit Kaur wife of Harnam Singh was presented.

Deliberations for the commission concluded on January 30, 2014. Over the past three years there have been 32 sessions. Bhai Darshan Singh Gholia attended all these sessions with me. I also thank the Shiromni Guruduara Prabandhak Committee from the bottom of my heart for its cooperation. Our struggle continues. I appeal to the Sikhs that we should pay attention to this village. Lest this land of martyrs is forgotten and its precious memory entrusted to our nation is lost in dust."

P.S. The Garg Commission issued its report on March 29, 2015. As a result of this commission, financial compensation has been announced for the victims, but there is no provision for framing charges against the perpetrators.

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