Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh,
First week of November 1984 bore witness to some of the darkest days of state-sponsored violence in India. In the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the homes of Sikhs in Delhi and other major cities throughout the country were identified and marked using electoral voters’ lists provided by the government officials. These homes were then targeted and tens of thousands of innocent children, women, and men were slaughtered through the cities and towns from the north to the south of the country. Countless others faced sexual violence and torture. Homes were looted and burnt, places of worship were desecrated. I too am a witness of that violence.
Every year, the first ten days of June and first five days of November are heavy for millions of Sikh families. We may express, commemorate or mourn differently but we all are connected with an invisible bond of grief these days.
Many of us, especially the ones who have borne the pains of 1984 on our bodies and minds, make it a point to speak to our families and educate our next generation about the genocide.
But many struggle and shy away. The truth is too gory and sad, uncomfortable, and painful to talk about.
Nonetheless, it must be told.
For years, I have dedicated quite a bit of my time in educating our next generation on the events of 1984, in order to create awareness, remembrance, and dialogue. While teaching various youth classes over the years, it bothered me that we lacked adequate tools for families that addressed the pain of the Sikhs in India, explaining the not so distant persecution to the young minds. I had been thinking about an illustrated book on 1984 for years; a book that would engage the young minds and educate them in a way that they can own this important piece of history.
So when, a couple of years ago, I was invited to write a children’s book on Jaswant Singh Khalra; it was a labor of love for me. In October of 2020, finally the world had the first book for teenagers and up, written in English and Punjabi, that addresses the tragic story of the Sikh genocide in the 20th century India, chronicled through the life and legacy of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra -- including the November 1984 pogroms.
Please spend a few minutes listening to or reading on "Why and How to speak to your children about 1984" and learn about other tools and ways you can use to engage them.
Listen to the Punjabi interview here.
Read the article in English here.
I see the November pogroms of 1984 all over India as an extension of the June operations in Punjab. All of it combines to form the Sikh Genocide of 1984 that must be understood and passed on. Hence, this book has an extensive coverage of the November pogroms including excerpts from worldwide coverage, important photographs from the time, and not to forget a soul-stirring artwork that will leave everyone coming back to this book.
I am grateful that this book is now being used by several Gurmat schools to educate youth about the Sikh Genocide. If you are connected to any educational institutes, I encourage you to give this book set and inspire the educators to utilize this as a tool to create a dialogue and awareness about this important piece of history.
Children also relate to the parents’ stories at a very deep and personal level. They empathize and identify with our life experiences more so than anything else they learn elsewhere. For example my eleven year old, whenever we are spending one-on-one time with each other; her favorite thing to hear is — stories of little Gurmeet. Obviously in June and November we talk about 1984 experiences and stories that I lived and know of as a little girl who was targeted along with her family. These childhood stories and memories will stick to them for the rest of their lives. They will own the stories and the narrative for generations to come. I encourage you to do the same.
Lastly, I want to thank you for supporting #JSKTheBook. I hope you will continue to do that so we can reach out to more readers from around the world. DVN daswandh week is just around the corner and I request you to mark you calendars for Nov 11th 12 pm EST when the DVN match begins.
Here is the link to our project:
Donate to our project on Nov 11th at 12 pm
For more information and to purchase these books please visit www.pippal.org/how-to-order.