Ten Thousand Pairs of Shoes

Mallika Kaur in Guernica:

Thirty years have passed since journalists were cut off from Punjab, and Punjab from the world. In June of each year, Sikhs throng to gurudwaras to observe one of the most significant of their religious holidays. On this day, when even the less observant find their way to gurudwaras, the Indian Army attacked Darbar Sahib—the Golden Temple, the Sikh Vatican —and dozens of other gurudwaras across the state.

An estimated ten thousand never returned to claim their shoes from the entrance to the Darbar Sahib. That the exact number of civilian casualties remains unknown signifies precisely why June 1984 is relevant today. More so, in light of India’s May 2014 election and the fierce debates it raised about the status of India’s minority communities.

The army’s operation, code named “Blue Star,” began with the forced eviction of all foreign journalists from Punjab. This, coupled with a state-wide curfew enforced by soldiers, limited the documentation of the civilian experience. However, the people’s memory of these events has been preserved successfully.

More here.




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