The genocidal pogroms against the Sikh people in India in November 1984 left thousands dead. In many of the outer areas of the capital, New Delhi, whole neighbourhoods were wiped out. Women were raped in large numbers. Senior politicians of the Congress (I) party led mobs, assisted by the police and administration. Thirty years on no memorials exist to the dead and the perpetrators continue to enjoy complete impunity. But the silence is slowly breaking. Not just about the damage caused to the justice system, memory and language in India, but also about the individual and collective trauma that exists within Sikh communities across the world.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms, the Wiener Library in London (Russell Square) is proud to feature the work 1984: Jis tann lãgé soee jãné by photographer Gauri Gill. The images and texts from the artist's 1984 notebooks reflect upon the pogroms and their ongoing impact in India. The images are from the resettlement colonies of Trilokpuri, Tilak Vihar and Garhi - various sites across Delhi - as well as protest rallies in the city. The accompanying texts by leading artists, poets, filmmakers and writers from Delhi remark upon the event, via the images, in thoughtful ways.
The exhibition also contains photographs of the pogrom as it occurred in November 1984 itself, and are drawn from the work of Indian photographers, Ashok Vahie, Ram Rahman and Sondeep Shankar.
Contributors to this project include contemporary Indian artist Arpana Caur; Senior Advocate and Human Rights activist, Harvinder Singh Phoolka, academic Dr Navsharan Singh; eminent historian Dr Uma Chakravarti; prizewinning Canadian author Jaspreet Singh and Parvinder Singh of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The event, held in partnership with the National Union of Journalists, will take the form of a panel discussion chaired by Wiener Library trustee Philip Spencer featuring Lord Indarjit Singh CBE, human rights barrister Schona Jolly and Parvinder Singh of the NUJ.
Professor Spencer is Director of the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence at Kingston University. His most recent book, Genocide since 1945 (Routledge, 2012) traces the history of genocide since the Holocaust looking at a number of cases across continents and decades.
Lord Indarjit Singh CBE is Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations UK, Vice Chair and Founder of the InterFaith Network UK. He is also Head and Co-Ordinator of the Sikh Chaplaincy Services. He is a member of the House of Lords, editor of the Sikh Messenger, presenter of 'Thought for the Day' on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 2's 'Pause for Thought'.
Schona Jolly is a writer, journalist and a barrister specialising in human rights and equality law. She is from London, but has lived and worked in a number of countries, including India. She is particularly interested in South Asian affairs and writes for a number of international publications on India. She is an executive committee member of the Bar Human Rights Committee.