Husband killed, son burnt alive as woman begs for mercy

Husband killed, son burnt alive as woman begs for mercy

Jagdish Kaur, whose husband was killed during 1984 anti-Sikh riots, leaves after the Delhi High Court convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, acts against communal harmony in the case and sentenced him to life imprisonment, in New Delhi, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (PTI Photo/ Ravi Choudhary)

On the ill-fated day that 1984 anti-Sikh riots broke out in the national capital, Jagdish Kaur saw two barbaric acts - her 17-year-old son Gurpreet being burnt alive on the street outside her home in West Delhi, and her soldier husband being butchered inside their drawing room. The frenzied armed mob was deaf to her pleas for mercy.

On Monday, as the Delhi High Court sentenced Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment, 77-year-old Kaur, whose testimony as a witness in the case remained crucial to convict Kumar, said her struggle to bring the other guilty to book will continue.

Kaur’s tragedy was heartrending. By the afternoon of November 1, 1984, Kaur’s family got a whiff of the troubles about to unleash. But it was too late. A crowd armed with swords, spears, rods trespassed her house. She pleaded for mercy, saying they did no wrong. Her husband was butchered within minutes.

Kaur shouted to her son to save himself. He did but was cordoned off at the other end of the street. The mob poured oil on him and set him on fire. Kaur ran out looking for her son only to see him lying charred. She said, her son had a few breaths left as she put him on her lap and asked him to chant God’s name in his dying moments. He died on his mother’s lap.

Other kids saved

His charred body was brought home and kept alongside the father’s body that lay in a pool of blood. Hours before the bloodshed began, Kaur had moved her 6-year-old son Gurdeep and three daughters to a Hindu neighbourhood. They were saved. Power supply had snapped. By evening, when the kids returned home, they asked Kaur about their father and brother. Kaur said, she lit a candle and showed them the bodies of the two.

The family wailed. Kaur, now settled in Amritsar, used the household furniture to set the pyre of her two loved ones. She also lost her three brothers in the carnage.