From Lost Childhood to Uncertain Future 1984 Anti-Sikh Delhi Genocide by Sanjay Austa
Like many journalists I had visited Tilak Vihar many times . Ominously called the `widows colony’ journalists come here each time a case against any of the big congress leaders come up for hearing. In those visits, like everyone else, I was satisfied with just the quotes of the widows and I filed my story as per the news peg of the day.
Some years later I had an opportunity to visit the colony in my avtar as a photographer. I am not sure if it had anything to do with photography but I suddenly began to notice things that I had not seen in the past. I observed that there were a lot of listless youth in the colony. They were in their twenties but seemed hopelessly unemployed or willfully lethargic. Many of them just sat at the shop fronts watching the traffic go by. Few of them just started at me with glazed eyes as I took their photographs. They were clearly on drugs. I asked around about these young men and learned this was the 1984 generation.
Some of them were in their mother’s wombs. Some a few days old. Many other school going toddlers in 1984 when their fathers, uncles or siblings were butchered in the Delhi anti-Sikh riots which left almost 3000 sikhs dead. These children were suddenly wrenched out from their snug family setup and hurled into the world of neglect, apathy and abuse. They grew up in the shadow of the riots, struggling between going to school and making a living. Their fathers were killed and their mothers either remarried or were so busy working to eek out a living that the kids were virtually forgotten. Twenty seven years on they have grown up into young men and women. I tried to document their lives and discovered that more than 60 percent of them are either into drugs or unemployed or battling some serious psychological scars. They had become wayward due to neglect, others unemployed due to lack of education and yet there were a precious few who transformed their lives by sheer grit and determination. These are their stories.
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