When a Tree Shook Delhi

I read the book a few weeks back. It is a good book, one which generates a lot of emotion - emotions of the kind that one is normally filled with after reading a book or watching a movie with social issues and/or messages.

The book authored by Manoj Mitta and H S Phoolka deals with the 1984 Sikh riots. This is the first book that I have read about the carnage that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi. She was killed by her own "Sikh" bodyguards - it was an act to avenge Operation Blue Star - an operation in which the army stormed the Golden Temple at Amritsar to flush out militants holed up inside.

[While I was reading on the internet for more information - to ensure as unbiased a view as possible, I discovered a chronology: Khalistan Movement - Operation Blue Star - Indira Gandhi's assassination - Anti Sikh riots - Operation Black Thunder]. Do let me know if you see a scope for correction or addition]

The book traces the events starting with the killing of Indira Gandhi and the government-led massacre of Sikhs that followed. The book carries with it a good amount of credibility because (as the book itself says and I believe)

H S Phoolka, spearheaded the struggle for justice for carnage victims right from the beginning. Legal journalist Manoj Mitta served as catalyst to the cause by exposing cover-ups at critical stages.
It is a must read for everyone because:
  • It is a book that can be trusted. Written by two eminent people, it forms a good starting point to further your read on this topic.
  • It exposes the not-so-pleasant underbelly of Indian government machinery. It takes into consideration the loads of damning evidences that surfaced when Nanavati commission, which was asked to investigate the 1984 riots, started working.
  • It dispels any myth of Government's clean image. The complicity of the government of the day was starkly evident. People who chose to hear their conscience were straight-jacketed in one way or the other.
It also makes us think that we, as citizens of India, are not automatically guaranteed security by the government of the day. We, the largest democracy, are not the makers of the government but are at its mercy. We should inculcate the habit of questioning the decision of the government and not just resign ourselves to the fait accompli handed down to us.

Concluding this post, some of the links that I came across while reading on the internet are here:

Also, a very good blog

A rediff special on 20 years of Operation Bluestar

Bharat Rakshak, a group of websites about the Indian Armed Forces


  1. Well, after reading the tragic instances in the book...it has indeed left a deep impact in my heart. Its extremely heartrending to even think about the victims and the aftermath. Nope!!! Whatever be the case...an eye for an eye can never be the solution to any attempt. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world becomes blind". What are we aiming at... with all these massacres,...a planet sans human beings????

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