24 December 2007

Book Review

I have not read this book. If any reader of this blog has, I would love for you to review it here. If so, please contact me at simayanan@gmail.com. Mai

Weekday Lounge Exclusive - Wall Street Journal

Betrayed By The State

This is the second book to have come out this year on the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The first, When a Tree Shook Delhi by Manoj Mitta and H.S. Phoolka, was backed by investigative rigour and the authors questioned the role of the then union government under Narasimha Rao in the carnage. In Betrayed by the State, Jyoti K. Grewal, professor of social and behaviourial sciences, Zayed University, Dubai, focuses more on the human suffering and fortitude that was displayed by Delhi's Sikh community in the riots' aftermath. Grewal also examines why lessons from this crime against humanity is relevant today, when sectarian politics is on the rise the world over.

Betrayed by the State:

By Jyoti Grewal,

223 pages,


Here is one review from Eastern Book Corporation. This book may be ordered online here.

Main Features »
I apologize not only to the Sikh community but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our Constitution . . . we as a united nation can ensure that such a ghastly event is never repeated in India’s future.’ —Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking in the Indian Parliament, August 2005 (I'm sorry, but every time I hear or read about the Sikh Prime Minister apologising for the 'anti-Sikh riots,' I have my laugh for the day.)

On 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by two of her bodyguards. They were Sikhs. Twenty-four hours later the capital of India was up in flames. Sikh men, women and children were hunted; men and boys were ruthlessly massacred; their workplaces burnt, houses razed to the ground and gurudwaras plundered. The carnage continued for three days and at the close of the third day the death toll was close to 4000.

Twenty-three years and nine commissions later, the victims of ’84 still await justice for their dead, for the State to do more than just apologize for what is one of the most heinous massacres in Indian history.
Weaving together ethnicity, religion, class, nationalism, religious fundamentalism and political expediencies, the author explores how a numerically small ethno-religious group of people, who are disproportionately visible in everyday Indian life, became the focus of communal ire. She also illustrates the strength and courage with which the ‘Chaurasiye’ have moved forward, rebuilding their lives against all odds.

A poignant examination of events that took place more than two decades ago, Betrayed by the State is relevant now, more than ever, in the atmosphere of heightened sectarian politics that prevails in India today.

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