Thursday, April 11, 2013

1984 Sikh Massacre Trials & Mistry's A Fine Balance

There have been new developments in India's investigation of a 1984 massacre of thousands of Sikhs.

Here's yesterday's BBC article "1984 India riots: Congress leader Jagdish Tytler probed:"
A court has ordered the reopening of a case against a Congress Party leader for his involvement in anti-Sikh riots in 1984.  Jagdish Tytler was originally cleared by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
More than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in 1984 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Activists accuse Congress of turning a blind eye to the killings and inciting mobs. Mr Tytler denies any wrongdoing.
Lakhwinder Kaur, whose husband was killed in the riots, challenged a 2009 CBI report, arguing that the testimonies of two key witnesses had not been recorded. "The court today gave directions to the CBI to record the statements of the witnesses who had [allegedly] seen Tytler lead the mob," Harvinder Phoolka, lawyer for one of the riot victims, told reporters.
For a novel about the massacre and the events leading up to it, try A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry:
The setting of Mistry's quietly magnificent second novel (after the acclaimed Such a Long Journey) is India in 1975-76, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, defying a court order calling for her resignation, declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These events, along with the government's forced sterilization campaign, serve as backdrop for an intricate tale of four ordinary people struggling to survive. Naive college student Maneck Kohlah, whose parents' general store is failing, rents a room in the house of Dina Dalal, a 40-ish widowed seamstress. Dina acquires two additional boarders: hapless but enterprising itinerant tailor Ishvar Darji and his nephew Omprakash, whose father, a village untouchable, was murdered as punishment for crossing caste boundaries. With great empathy and wit, the Bombay-born, Toronto-based Mistry evokes the daily heroism of India's working poor, who must cope with corruption, social anarchy and bureaucratic absurdities. Though the sprawling, chatty narrative risks becoming as unwieldy as the lives it so vibrantly depicts, Mistry combines an openness to India's infinite sensory detail with a Dickensian rendering of the effects of poverty, caste, envy, superstition,corruption and bigotry.

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