1984 anti-Sikh riots
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, also known as the 1984 Sikh Massacre or 1984 genocide of Sikhs, was a series of pogroms directed against Sikhs in India, by anti-Sikh mobs, most notably by members of the Congress party, in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Official Indian government reports admit to about 2800 deaths across India, including 2100 in Delhi. Other independent sources estimate the number of deaths to be around 8,000, including at least 3,000 in Delhi. The Central Bureau of Investigation, the main Indian investigating agency, believes the acts of violence were organised with the support from the then Delhi police and some central government officials. Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister after his mother's death and, when asked about the riots, said "when a big tree falls, the earth shakes".
The sporadic violence continued as a result of an armed Sikh separatist seeking independence. In June 1984, during Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack the Golden Temple and eliminate any insurgents, as it had been occupied by Sikh separatists who were allegedly stockpiling weapons. Later operations by Indian paramilitary forces were initiated to clear the separatists from the countryside of Punjab state.
The violence in Delhi was triggered by the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India's prime minister, on 31 October 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards in response to her actions authorising the military operation. The Indian government reported 2,700 deaths in the ensuing chaos. In the aftermath of the riots, the Indian government reported 20,000 had fled the city, however the People's Union for Civil Liberties reported "at least" 1,000 displaced persons. The most affected regions were the Sikh neighbourhoods in Delhi. Human rights organisations and newspapers across India believe the massacre was organised. The collusion of political officials in the massacres and the judiciary's failure to penalise the killers alienated normal Sikhs and increased support for the Khalistan movement. The Akal Takht, the governing religious body of Sikhism, considers the killings to be a genocide.
In 2011, Human Rights Watch reported the Government of India had "yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings". The 2011 WikiLeaks cable leaks revealed that the United States was convinced about the complicity of the Indian government ruled by the Indian National Congress in the riots, and termed it as "opportunism" and "hatred" of the Congress government against Sikhs. The United States has refused to recognise the riots as genocide, but does acknowledge that "grave human rights violations" did take place. Also in 2011, a new set of mass graves was discovered in Haryana, and Human Rights Watch reported that "Widespread anti-Sikh attacks in Haryana were part of broader revenge attacks" in India.
In April 2015, the California State Assembly recognised that the Indian government was responsible for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and described the riots as 'genocide.'