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After the ’84 riots, Sikhs faced pressure to move on, says author


There is a constant cycle of sectarian violence in human history and the only hope of ending it is by embracing each other’s pain,” says Sarbpreet Singh, author of the critically acclaimed Night of the Restless Spirits.

Singh was speaking in the context of a discussion on ‘Revisiting horrors of 1984 Pogrom’ with authors Arjun Raj Gaind and Radhika Oberoi at the Times LitFest on Sunday.

However violence unacknowledged also perpetuates itself and the fact that the 1984 pogrom remained largely absent from public memory for a long time has been accepted over the years. Singh attributed this to a complex issue within the community which was compelled by a sense of pain, shame and guilt to bury the horrors. There was also a pressure to move on which, he says, was done systematically by those in power that prevented any catharsis for the community.

The pogrom also attacked the Sikh identity in a very physical way, Oberoi said, recounting instances where physical symbols like long hair were targeted. Amongst the most common attacks were turbans being removed and hair hacked or set on fire. Gaind — whose book The Anatomy of Scars is based on personal memory and recollections around the events of 1984— said that the beard in his book is a metaphor for how the world perceives identity and to tackle the great hypocrisy of being open—minded and closeminded at the same time.

To watch live, visit www.timeslitfest.com



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