On 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Over the next three days thousands of Sikh men, women and children were humiliated, beaten, raped, burnt alive and lynched by organized mobs across northern India, down till Karnataka. Thirty-five years later, only a handful of the perpetrators have been convicted. While thousands of survivors still live in ghettos, struggling with poverty, post-traumatic stress disorder and a deep sense of injustice.
Black November contains interviews, affidavits, short stories, plays and poetry recounting the horrific violence, betrayals and the denial of justice. It features interviews conducted by Nandita Haksar and Uma Chakravarti in the immediate aftermath of the riots; more recent interviews by the editor Ishmeet Kaur Chaudhry, in the Tilak Vihar Widows’ Colony; original affidavits from the Nanavati Commission, including one by Khushwant Singh; chilling autobiographical accounts, reportage and reminiscences by Jarnail Singh, Dhiren Bhagat and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; as well as moving short stories, plays and poetry by Gursharan Singh, Gurcharan Rampuri, Harish Narang, N.S. Madhavan, Rachel Bari, Bishnu Mohapatra, Harnidh Kaur, Parvinder Mehta, Manroop Dhingra, and others.
At a time when caste and religious minorities in India are being systematically targeted yet again, this powerful anthology brings to light, with empathy and unflinching honesty, the fear and alienation of a whole community torn apart by state-abetted violence, and worn down by the subsequent slog for justice. It instructs us to listen to the dispossessed, persecuted and brutalized, and compels us to seek justice and healing for the survivors.