A criminal complaint lodged against Amitabh BIG B Pleads Innocence
Jagdish Kaur was 42 years old when she had seen her husband and son being murdered in cold blood by a frenzied mob inside her Palam Colony house in West Delhi on November 1, 1984. She also saw her three brothers Narinder Pal Singh, 35, Raghwinder Singh, 28 and Kuldeep Singh, 21, being burnt to death by goons while they were trying to save themselves.
This prime witness of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has said that everyone who had been watching Doordarshan that day saw how superstar Amitabh Bachchan provoked the rioters. “I wonder why no one has lodged a case against Amitabh Bachchan for provoking killing of Sikhs. I watched the live relay on Doordarshan and saw Amitabh Bachchan raising his arm and shouting the slogan, ‘khun ka badla khun se lenge’ (Blood for blood) two times.” She says that everyone who had been watching Doordarshan was witness to how the Bollywood superstar provoked the anti- Sikh riots.
Recently a US-based Sikh human rights group has lodged a criminal complaint against Bachchan in Australia for instigating and abetting 1984 Sikh riots. Australia’s ‘Criminal Code Act 1995’ states that Australian courts can have jurisdiction over cases involving crimes against humanity irrespective of whether the offence was committed in Australia or not.
Demanding framing of murder charges against Amitabh Bachchan, All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and National 1984 Victims Justice and Welfare Society organisations which have been pursuing the court cases of anti-Sikh riot victims for past few years, have declared that they would present witnesses at Akal Takht, who saw the Bollywood actor raise slogans of ‘Khoon Ka Badla Khoon’ after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
As per a release issued by Gurpatwant S. Pannun, legal adviser to ‘Sikhs for Justice’, 52-year-old Manjit Singh Saini, originally hailing from Kalu Sarai, Delhi, and at present residing in California, was present in front of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 31, 1984, when Bachchan allegedly incited a mob to target a Sikh present there.
The Big B had been invited by the Punjab government for the inauguration of the Khalsa Heritage Complex’s Virasat-e-Khalsa monument at Anandpur Sahib in November 2011. Bachchan was later asked by the Akal Takht not to attend the ceremony because of his alleged utterances during the riots in Delhi, despite receiving an official invite from the Punjab government. The Takht had issued directions to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar that Bachchan shouldn’t be the part of the inaugural function.
On his part, Big B sent a sealed letter to the Jathedar (head) of the Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, pleading innocence on the allegations of instigating the killing of Sikhs during the 1984 riots. Amitabh Bachchan along with his son Abhishek, visited the residence of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee member from Mumbai, Gurinder Singh Bawa, on the 1st of December 2011 and handed him the letter. Bawa’s relative Satnam Singh is believed to have personally delivered the letter to the Jathedar. Refusing to divulge the letter’s content, Bawa indicated that Bachchan had pleaded innocence about the allegations leveled against him.
In his letter, Bachchan wrote: “I am addressing this letter to you with a most pained heart. Wild, irresponsible and most unfounded allegations, by certain sections of the Sikh community, about my involvement in the inciting of violence against them during the most unfortunate Sikh riots of 1984, soon after the death of Shrimati Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister of India, has caused me acute agony.
“These vicious allegations have caused me deep hurt, particularly when they were leveled at a time when I had accepted the invitation from the Punjab government to attend the inaugural ceremony of the historical Khalsa Heritage Complex at Sri Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa Panth. I was indeed looking forward to attending this sacred ceremony and sharing the immense pleasure and divine bliss with the Sikh Sangat, but declined because I did not want to be the cause for any embarrassment at this historical function.
“Now that the ceremony is over, I wish to take this opportunity to vehemently and categorically deny these allegations against me which are completely baseless, false and untrue. The Nehru-Gandhi family and our family have old ties from our city of origin, Allahabad. We have been together in each other’s hour of grief and joy, but to allege that I was a part of the crowd that incited them to raise anti-Sikh slogans is a preposterous and blatant lie. Quite contrarily, I have always propagated the soothing of injured feelings and the maintenance of serenity. The unfortunate incidents of the riots of 1984 against the Sikhs shall always remain a blot and a dark phase in the history of our country, a country that prides itself in its secular credentials.”
Bachchan even attached a copy of a photograph of his maternal grandparents, who were from a Sikh family. He pointed out that his maternal grandfather, Khazan Singh Suri, was a bar-at-law from England and that his mother, Teji Bachchan, came from a Sikh family. He pointed out that he had gone to the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib in December 2007 for prayers after the passing away of his mother.
Akal Takht head Gurbachan Singh, while acknowledging that he had got the letter, said: “The matter is linked to Sikh sentiments. The five Singh Sahibaan (Sikh high priests) will consider his letter and discuss the matter at their meeting.Whatever they decide, the next action will be taken accordingly.
The cult status that he has, even the Sikh clergy has deferred the hearing of his case pending before the Akal Takht three times. It was last put off on the 24th February 2012 and has not been taken up again. The All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) chief Karnail Singh Peer Mohammed demanded that the Bollywood star be summoned before the Akal Takht to clarify his role in the Delhi riots. Last year, he along with Jagjit Kaur, had submitted a sealed packet to the Akal Takht Jathedar. He claimed that the envelope contained proof of Bachchan’s role in instigating the mobs against Sikhs. The Jathedar may open the packet before the next meeting of the clergy, the date for which is yet to be decided.
On the 26th July, 2012 Amitabh Bachchan carried the Olympic torch amid loud cheers from hundreds of his fans at Southward near London, a day before the opening ceremony. Amongst the loud cheers, some members of the Sikh community of North and East London shouted out, “Murderer! Murderer! You will be exposed!” A shaken Amitabh was whisked away by security persons.
Activists who have requisitioned for the Doordarshan Archives for the broadcast tapes have met a dead end. Like the various Committee reports the tapes too must have gone missing.
By Anil Dhir