chapter  39
5 Pages

Veena Das Anthropological Knowledge and Collective Violence: The Riots in Delhi, November 1984

Let me briefly describe the context within which the riots took place. Following the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in Delhi on 31 October 1984, there was widespread violence against the Sikhs for three days. The assassins were from the Sikh community and it was initially assumed by many that the riots were an expression of the spontaneous anger of crowds against a dastardly act. Initially it was thought that the number of people killed in Delhi would not exceed a hundred. Whereas many people were completely bewildered by the violence for the first two days, it was still assumed that the police would take charge and law and order would be restored.