Joseph Maliakan is a veteran journalist who worked with Indian Express at the time when Delhi was burning in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31st, 1984 at her official residence in Delhi by her own security guards, who happened to be Sikhs.

Though the incident happened at around 9 am in the morning, the nation was kept on the hook till 6 pm with no information being made available to people on All India Radio and Doordarshan. Once she was officially declared dead at the 6 pm All India Radio bulletin, Delhi had already witnessed a scene of horrific crime with the goons of the ruling Congress party led by senior leaders campaigning against Sikhs. Frankly speaking, it was not merely Congress but the party that time became the ‘identity’ of ‘Hindus’ and Sikhs were made the biggest villain being accused of celebrating Indira Gandhi’s death by distributing ‘laddus’ and so many things.

Every Sikh was accused of conspiring, enjoying and a suspected Khalistani. The state completely abdicated its responsibility with Delhi police actively supporting the goons in targeting the innocent Sikhs and their localities. It was one of the worst massacres, if I can say, that India saw in post independent India. Trilokpuri in the Eastern Delhi had a thick population, a majority of whom were poor as well as Economically Poor Sections of society. This locality was targeted.

Media had no clue but it was courageous Joseph Maliakan who reached the place and witnessed the horrific crime. As per his own narrative, his editors initially refused to believe the story because of the magnitude of barbarism and deaths but he stood by his report and it became one of the most sought after information during that period. He was the first and most authentic reporter who reported the massive massacre of Sikhs at Trilokpuri. He appeared before many Commissions of Inquiry.

This conversation was conducted at his home in Delhi. It has many more details about the media and how it functions. An extremely important voice of sanity and reasoning. We saw the anguish, pain and tears in his eyes when he narrated this story to us. Important to understand when the state abdicated its responsibility the result was mayhem and anarchy. Rule of law must persist. We all must hang our heads in shame for our collective responsibility in saving innocent lives. Very similar happened in Gujarat 2002 and the real issues are forgotten in the political manipulations and blame games. As a nation and society, we need to understand how long we will allow ourselves to bear such things. One thing is clear that India cannot become a powerful nation as long ethnic, caste and religious identities are used to frame and punish people.

This conversation was recorded about three years back at the Delhi residence of Shri Joseph Maliakan. He also speaks about the caste bias in our media and how the media ignored the real facts and how the SC-ST officers faced the punishment instead of the real criminals.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity


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