Sunday, April 12, 2009

Revenge of the Surds

You have to have a deep hatred for a person to wish the most painful death on him. Karamjit Singh tried to kill then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 because, like other Sikhs in the country, he too considered Indira Gandhi, and later her older son, to be responsible for the sectarian violence that tore many Sikh families apart.

When I spoke to him last week, Singh was in the process of filing his nomination papers from Patiala. The man is contesting the seat as an independent and has just one aim in life - to defeat the Congress and the "conniving" Shiromani Akali Dal. He is now a lawyer practising in the district court; he is making every effort to wipe out the 'criminal' tag attached to his name.

When I asked him how he felt when he heard about Rajiv's assassination in 1991 (Singh was still in jail at the time), he promptly replied, "I just felt sorry that I had not been able to kill him." He didn't sound bitter about it, but his matter-of-fact tone chilled me. "Aisa hota hai na, aap jaisa karte ho, waisa bharte ho. These people have the blood of so many of my Sikh brothers and sisters on their hands. Inka anth aisa hi hona tha."

He went on to add that his biggest regret in life was not that he attempted the assassination at Rajghat all those years ago, but that he botched it up. "Never mind that now. What is past is past. But we have not forgotten the atrocities the Congress inflicted on us. We will never forget it, we will never allow our children to forget it. But now bullets will not work. We have to use our democracy in the best way we can," Singh said.

Many constraints prevented us from printing the interview, especially the bits about Rajiv, verbatim. What we did print is here.

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