“Impunity in India” – An Evening of Reflection and Hopeful Projection

San Antonio, TX, November 22, 2009 --(PR.com)-- In conjunction with Trinity University’s Students Creating Awareness of the Sikh Faith (SCASF), Sikh Research Institute presented an evening of informed dialogue and reflection on the events of November 1984, in which organized anti-Sikh mobs massacred thousands across cities in northern India with the complicit consent of government officials, political leaders, and the police. This event, which was attended by students, members of the San Antonio community, and Sikhs, was held on 16 November 2009 in Chapman Auditorium at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Harinder Singh’s lecture provided an overview of the sequence of events leading up to and during the anti-Sikh pogroms and gave shape to the violence during this time period by examining its patterns and characteristics. Utilizing the coverage from the world media and state-controlled media outlets, the presentation questioned the participation and collusion of the central government and local police. He ended his remarks by acknowledging the various commissions have investigated the pogroms, but these investigations have ultimately resulted in no significant justice for the victims.

Dr. Cynthia Mahmood, Professor of Anthropology at Notre Dame University, shared parts of her extensive research and reflections on the historical context of 1984, as well as the character of the ensuing resistance. She put forth her observations of the Sikh community’s response to the pogroms and offered suggestions for catalyzing Sikh unity and political activism. Dr. Mahmood also examined how the concept of “democracy” becomes unstable and problematic when nations, in this case India, abrogate their citizens’ civil and human rights during perceived instances of national crisis.

The lectures were followed by an audience discussion concerning various aspects of November ’84, including what steps Sikhs can take today to heal from this communal calamity. Both speakers asserted that Sikhs should move past a victimized perspective in order to demand meaningful justice. Reverend Stephen Nickle, Trinity University Chaplain, closed the event by offering hope on how the voiceless can reclaim a voice.

Courtney Henderson, an audience member, stated, “I came to this conference not knowing anything about Sikh history [or] cultural traits…I had barely heard the word…. I learned a lot and realize that previous to this, I was socially dead towards Sikhs. Not because of intent, but because of ignorance toward what was going on. The Sikh story crosses all cultural lines and speaks to the value of human rights. I agree with Dr. Cynthia Mahmood in that this story should be shared with, not only other minority groups, but majority groups as well because we all connect with human rights and how they can too easily be impeded upon.”

“Holding these types of events is absolutely imperative – for Sikhs as well as non-Sikhs. November ’84 is not topic we should avoid or forget. It is ever-present in the collective Sikh psyche and, until we acknowledge that, we will be unable to deal with the enormous challenges our community has faced and continues to deal with daily,” expressed Dilpreet Kaur Sidhu, who coordinated the event.

Contact Person: Dilpreet Kaur Sidhu
dilpreet.kaur@sikhri.org | 210-757-4555

Sikh Research Institute
Shraddha Nembang