from oct 31 to nov 4th 1984 - the indian government launched a systematic campaign of state violence to destroy its sikh population. (this was months after the june 1984 attack on amritsar’s golden temple and 40 other sikh gurdwaras where thousands of worshipers were murdered. revolutionaries and activists were labelled as terrorists. human rights agencies and the press were banned. no info was getting out. no one could get in. the perfect way to make it look like “nothing happened”.) this assault - which began on oct 31 - focused on sikhs living outside of punjab. the methodical coordination of what happened next breaks me to pieces every time.
in delhi - lists were spread identifying which houses belonged to sikh families. their front doors were marked with an X. and then some of the country’s most powerful politicians inflamed and organized masses into mobs. their mission - go door to door. round up and kill as many sikhs as possible.
for a lot of the sikh men - their own turbans were used to tie them up. bodies dosed with kerosene. rung with tires. and lit on fire. women were raped en masse. in most instances - police stood by. some watched. while others facilitated the killings. over the course of the next few nights - official records say 3,000 sikhs were killed. however we know the actual numbers were much higher.
35 years later - a widows’ colony still exists in delhi. comprised of survivors whose families were killed. in 2012 i wrote a poem about the 1984 genocide of sikhs in india. containing a line about the women who came out of that terror “as smooth as milk and as thick as honey”. this was where the title for ‘milk and honey’ was born.
they cannot exterminate a community that easily. for that - they would have to crush our psyche. render our hopes obsolete.
but we are a community born out of resilience. who have been fighting for our freedoms and the freedom of others since our very inception in the 1400s. our hopes will never be obsolete. we come from an eternal fight for all those who are stomped on. we are alive. we are thriving. we are speaking out from all corners of the world. walking hand in hand towards freedom.