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"Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shakes a little." — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 19 November 1984 "I have no hesitation in apologizing not only to the Sikh commun "Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shakes a little." — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 19 November 1984 "I have no hesitation in apologizing not only to the Sikh community but the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood, as enshrined in our Constitution. On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of this country. I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place." — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 11 August 2005 It stands out even in a country inured to mass violence - 3000 members of a minority community slaughtered over three days in 1984, right in India's capital. Twenty-three years on, neither the organizers of the massacre nor the state players who facilitated it have been punished, despite prolonged inquiries and trials. This massacre of Silks in the wake of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination has turned out to be a reality check on India's much touted institutions of the rule of law. The book seeks to uncover the truth on the basis of the evidence that came to light during the proceedings of the latest judicial inquiry conducted by the Nanavati Commission. Authors Manoj Mitta and H.S. Phoolka, perhaps the most knowledgeable voices on the subject, present an unsparing account, abounding with insights and revelations, on the 1984 carnage and its aftermath.


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"Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shakes a little." — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 19 November 1984 "I have no hesitation in apologizing not only to the Sikh commun "Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shakes a little." — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 19 November 1984 "I have no hesitation in apologizing not only to the Sikh community but the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood, as enshrined in our Constitution. On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of this country. I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place." — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 11 August 2005 It stands out even in a country inured to mass violence - 3000 members of a minority community slaughtered over three days in 1984, right in India's capital. Twenty-three years on, neither the organizers of the massacre nor the state players who facilitated it have been punished, despite prolonged inquiries and trials. This massacre of Silks in the wake of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination has turned out to be a reality check on India's much touted institutions of the rule of law. The book seeks to uncover the truth on the basis of the evidence that came to light during the proceedings of the latest judicial inquiry conducted by the Nanavati Commission. Authors Manoj Mitta and H.S. Phoolka, perhaps the most knowledgeable voices on the subject, present an unsparing account, abounding with insights and revelations, on the 1984 carnage and its aftermath.

30 review for When a Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage and its Aftermath

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rajesh

    Shocking! The book got its name from the infamous statement from Rajiv Gandhi after the 1984 anti-sikh riot -" When a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little". 'The shaking of earth' is the metaphor he used to refer to the genocide that took the life out 3000 Sikh people. Rajiv Gandhi instead of expressing regret over the unfortunate incident, said it was just natural for the people to vent out their anger. The book shows that 1984 carnage was not a spo Shocking! The book got its name from the infamous statement from Rajiv Gandhi after the 1984 anti-sikh riot -" When a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little". 'The shaking of earth' is the metaphor he used to refer to the genocide that took the life out 3000 Sikh people. Rajiv Gandhi instead of expressing regret over the unfortunate incident, said it was just natural for the people to vent out their anger. The book shows that 1984 carnage was not a spontaneous outflow of anger against the Sikh community over the assassination of Indira Gandhi but a state sponsored genocide. Gujarat riot, which dragged on for 3 months, resulted in loss of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. 1984 genocide which lasted just for 3 days killed close to 3000 Sikh people! That too perpetuated by the goons of the party which consider itself a secular party! What an irony!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tiwary Amit

    1984 is a blot on post independence modern Indian history. The detail in the book is completely factual which clearly shows the nexus between politicians and police force during those unfateful 3 days. And then there are details on how the politicians/police/judiciary denied the suffers even the basic rights of representation and delivery of justice. I feel ashamed. I feel raged. I feel frustrated. How easy it was for the powerful and rulers in the country to manipulate and cover up the first or 1984 is a blot on post independence modern Indian history. The detail in the book is completely factual which clearly shows the nexus between politicians and police force during those unfateful 3 days. And then there are details on how the politicians/police/judiciary denied the suffers even the basic rights of representation and delivery of justice. I feel ashamed. I feel raged. I feel frustrated. How easy it was for the powerful and rulers in the country to manipulate and cover up the first organized pogrom of independent India. How pathetic that not a single politician got a sentence for their deeds which caused such a deep scar in the minds and hearts of the affected and concerned. Kudos to Manoj Mitta and H S Phooka to bring out the truth and details from one of the greatest cover ups. And H S Phooka, you are a hero. A hero in many senses. The kind of commitment and efforts you have put in all your life to bring justice to affected is unparalleled. Salute sir.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annie Zaidi

    Read this book. Read it to understand how things go wrong, how justice goes haywire, and how - in the absence of justice - injustice is repeated. Read it alongside 'Hashimpura: May 22' by Vibhuti Narain Rai. Mandatory reading for all journalists. I really hope it is being translated into other Indian languages. Read this book. Read it to understand how things go wrong, how justice goes haywire, and how - in the absence of justice - injustice is repeated. Read it alongside 'Hashimpura: May 22' by Vibhuti Narain Rai. Mandatory reading for all journalists. I really hope it is being translated into other Indian languages.

  4. 4 out of 5

    OD

    This book was part of a necessary catching up with an important part of Indian history for me. The Delhi riots of 84 are brought up by Narendra Modi/BJP apologists every time the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 is discussed and the timelines and details were very sketchy in my mind. Well, there's a wealth of detail in this book. A first section gives a broad overview of the story that played out over 3 days in '84 taking the lives of 3000 people and the legal drama that's still unresolved three decades l This book was part of a necessary catching up with an important part of Indian history for me. The Delhi riots of 84 are brought up by Narendra Modi/BJP apologists every time the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 is discussed and the timelines and details were very sketchy in my mind. Well, there's a wealth of detail in this book. A first section gives a broad overview of the story that played out over 3 days in '84 taking the lives of 3000 people and the legal drama that's still unresolved three decades later. The second section of the book is told from the decidedly partisan viewpoint of one of the lawyers involved in the decades-long struggle for bringing those responsible for the 'carnage' to trial. The partisanship is not necessarily bad, some stories just do not have two versions equally deserving to be told and this is most certainly one of them. HS Phoolka, the lawyer, lays out in painful detail the workings of several inquiry commissions that set about trying to find the 'truth of 84', the various botched trials and police cases, and gives fleeting glimpses of the judges, police officers, lawyers and politicians whose various agendas dragged these processes first one way then another and in the end ensured nothing ever really was resolved. The details are tiresome to read. As they must have been tiresome to live through, if you were one of those affected. But the author doesn't help with his style. There is no attempt at building a narrative. The book can't decide whether to shock you about the callous murders, or to be an expose of the infighting between various organs of the judiciary and the executive, or to be the author's autobiography, or his personal thank-you notes to all those people who helped him along the way. In the end you get glimpses of something truly big, and I'm glad I read this book, I just wish they had hired a competent editor first.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Megha Sharma

    The metaphorical title is what grasped my attention when I picked up the book. Rajiv Gandhi in his address to nation referred to the carnage that led to a genocide of 3000 people as shaking of earth while Indira Gandhi was being referred to as a tree which fell. While we all know about the massacre that took place in 1984, I was unaware of the intricate details behind the riots and the aftermath. This book is a wholesome guide to all that there is to these riots. Heart rendering and shocking, so The metaphorical title is what grasped my attention when I picked up the book. Rajiv Gandhi in his address to nation referred to the carnage that led to a genocide of 3000 people as shaking of earth while Indira Gandhi was being referred to as a tree which fell. While we all know about the massacre that took place in 1984, I was unaware of the intricate details behind the riots and the aftermath. This book is a wholesome guide to all that there is to these riots. Heart rendering and shocking, some of the tales leave you in a wretched state. The tacit involvement of Congress leaders is focussed upon and is backed my facts. The gory details I've learned of the spiteful massacre from this book will remain in my heart forever!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nitin Bhandarkar

    Some episodes from India's past are so dark, it almost seems unbelieving that they belong to India. The carnage of 84 in New Delhi is one such dubious chapter. What followed for 3 days after Mrs. Gandhi's killing left a long trail of pain and trauma that would consume the lives of many who survived. HS Phoolka's narrative mostly delves into his work trying to bring justice to the victims and the humongous struggle it proved to be, given that the perpetrators of the crime were people in high posit Some episodes from India's past are so dark, it almost seems unbelieving that they belong to India. The carnage of 84 in New Delhi is one such dubious chapter. What followed for 3 days after Mrs. Gandhi's killing left a long trail of pain and trauma that would consume the lives of many who survived. HS Phoolka's narrative mostly delves into his work trying to bring justice to the victims and the humongous struggle it proved to be, given that the perpetrators of the crime were people in high positions. Eventually, political will prevails one way or the other and our institutions only bend to their sway.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Harish Muralidhar

    written by the very person who fought for the victims, it details the horrors that took place in Delhi (including the ones faced by the author himself) and of course the meticulous manner in which every possible attempt was made to cover up and shield the perpetrators after. Reading this, one feels justice too is a game after all.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anjishnu

    Depressing, enlightening, a must read for anyone who claims to have an opinion on Indian culture, politics and the legal system.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Swarnendu

    A human life was valued at 500 rupees. Let that sink in.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Soham Chakraborty

    After Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984, the capital of India, Delhi, was ravaged for three days by rioters, killing almost 3000 sikhs. Indira's son, India's next prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, had said, 'when a mighty tree falls, the earth around it does shake a little bit'. It was said after the massacre of sikhs was complete and gave the carnage the stamp of legitimacy, attached a symbol of state endorsement. By official estimates, 2733 sikhs were killed, during a three day long bloodbath. After Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984, the capital of India, Delhi, was ravaged for three days by rioters, killing almost 3000 sikhs. Indira's son, India's next prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, had said, 'when a mighty tree falls, the earth around it does shake a little bit'. It was said after the massacre of sikhs was complete and gave the carnage the stamp of legitimacy, attached a symbol of state endorsement. By official estimates, 2733 sikhs were killed, during a three day long bloodbath. Largest democracy of the world, played a very suitable and vital role. 13 persons faced punishment in half a dozen murder cases, no political leader faced conviction. What was known earlier as well and has been rendered by after this book, is that, several Congress leaders actually instigated the mob to attack the sikhs. The mob in turn, murdered the sikh males, raped the women and burned off the dead bodies and properties. The worst of this mass killing happened in an area, called Trilokpuri, where 300 sikhs were killed in a single block, over the span of a day, in what could very aptly, be called, a genocide. Bone chilling accounts of atrocity are documented vividly in the first half of the book. Manoj Mitta, the investigative journalist, didn't leave a single archive untouched and the result, is this book, a fable of an unjust, unlawful, barbaric, inhuman democracy of India. As the noted sociologist Ashish Nandy had said, 'this book is almost a handy guide on how to organize a communal riot and then escapte the consequences'. Why the mobs attacked the sikhs? Obviously not to avenge the murder of Indira Gandhi. It would serve no purpose to kill random people for that. The answer lies in politics. Ruling Congress leaders in Delhi, wanted to make it big in national circuit. Where subtlety is not counted as a virtue, brute force obviously does. And so it happened that the Congress leaders, urged the mob to go and kill the sikhs. The mob, in turn, followed the theory of conformism. As we know, that a person who doesn't have the skill or courage to take a decision in hours of crisis, conforms to the behaviour of the group, even if that goes against his conscience. Also, as per 'Agentic state theory' "the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view themselves as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and they therefore no longer see themselves as responsible for their actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow." The reason I cited this study is because, in the age when consent is manufactured and propaganda is served as TV news, every citizen should determine their action. Unfortunately, blind group thinking is still manufactured in India, under the veil of democracy and culture. Why did the political leaders did so? Indira Gandhi was a cult who 40 years ago, had imposed emergency on the republic of India. She had successfully managed to create a perception that she is the party, the nation. After her death, the power hungry hyenas of political circus, wanted to use the opportune moment to catapult themselves in national political circuit. Sure enough, Congress party stayed true to its culture of one man worship and hardly anyone - anyone who had some clout over the leaders who were on streets - uttered a note of dissent. The Congress government, was in fact, complicit to the carnage and actively abetted the violence and stoked the fire of animosity towards sikhs. Not for one day, not for two day, but for three days. It crippled the police and army, giving a free rein to the blood thristy mobs and their instigators. Also it made most of the situation by soon going into a national election and rubbing salt to the wounds of democracy, it won the elections with a thumping majority. The Delhi Congress leaders were suitably rewarded, one getting cabinet rank and another bagged minister of state portfolio. What was the police doing? Very simple. Police acts as per the political current. This book lays bare how the Congress government, coordinated with Delhi police, allowing the rampaging mob unchecked. Suddenly, after three days - as if nothing had happened in between - police and military started restoring law and order. What did the judiciary do? This book MUST be read if we want to understand how the supreme institutions for upholding justice - the courts - behaved and continue to behave, in contradiction of natural justice. Arundhati Roy had once said, that the Supreme court of India, has two supremacy - one, it wields supreme power and two, it is supremely unaccountable. Not unsurprisingly, mere mortals, never understand legalese and how it can be exploited or even used as a weapon against them. The first judicial inquiry, constituted by none other than the Congress government, was a total farce. The Ranganath Misra commission held inquiries before camera, opposed to the standard practice of inquiring before public. Not to go into details - and the book must be read for the details - the commission made a mockery of justice. The Congress party duly rewarded for the subservience shown to it and Ranganath Misra not only went on to become chief justice of India but laughingly was also made, the first chairman of National Human Rights Commission. Such is the travesty of justice. The second judicial inquiry, formed after almost two decades, showed feeble repentance for the state sponsored carnage. It booked the Delhi Congress leaders for mobilizing people to murder the sikhs, but, it failed to mention the top brass of Congress, who acted in unison with the local leaders. However, the very order of allowing the mobs to go on was propagated from the who's who of Congress. But the higher ups were spared and none of them were even hinted even as complicit in the report. But again, not all man are equal. Some man are more equal than others. India boasts of being a democracy. Truth be told, the trumpet breaks in a closer inspection. None of the major sectarian and communal carnage in independent India, has seen justice. Be it the anti-sikh riot in national capital, or Babri Masjid destruction and ensuing riot in parts of the country, mostly Mumbai, or exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley, or Godhra riots and extra judicial killings in the three month long communal riot in Gujarat, or the Hindu Muslim riots in Uttarpradesh. In each of them, law and justice never prevailed and truth be told, will not prevail. It is unsure of how India will behave in future. Democracy is of little value, if it is only an electoral democracy. Democracy entails and imbibes law and order and justice. An unjust society, an unjust country, can never be a true democracy. As much as it hurts me to say this, India is not one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vishaal Devanaboyina

    Loved the blow by blow recounting. Evoked strong emotions in me. Showed me how easily the animalistic nature of the common man can be brought out. We've only got a veneer of civilisation. Loved the blow by blow recounting. Evoked strong emotions in me. Showed me how easily the animalistic nature of the common man can be brought out. We've only got a veneer of civilisation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rahul Sharma

    1984 Sikh pogrom is one of the darkest chapters in the history of India and also the most easily forgotten. 'When a Tree Shook Delhi' reminds us of the horrific time and the neglect & callousness with which the judiciary investigated the case. The book is essentially divided into two parts; where Manoj Mitta recounts his experience as a journalist of (un)covering the riots and shares some of the most harrowing accounts of the victims. Each story is filled with pain, anger and remorse & you can't 1984 Sikh pogrom is one of the darkest chapters in the history of India and also the most easily forgotten. 'When a Tree Shook Delhi' reminds us of the horrific time and the neglect & callousness with which the judiciary investigated the case. The book is essentially divided into two parts; where Manoj Mitta recounts his experience as a journalist of (un)covering the riots and shares some of the most harrowing accounts of the victims. Each story is filled with pain, anger and remorse & you can't help but be moved by it. I was particularly shaken when I read the Gurdip Kaur's chilling account who was gang raped in front of her son and her husband & other son were set to fire. The second part is more focused on the legal aspect with HS Phoolka taking over and sharing his struggles with the bureaucracy to get the victims justice. He provides an exhaustive account of the lapses made by the commissions at the behest of Congress party and how they failed the victims and society at large. Congress leaders like HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Kamal Nath were all set free because of 'lack of evidence' and what's worse is that all of them went on to become ministers in successive Congress governments. More than feeling angry, I felt sad after reading the book. Sad at the sad state of affairs in our country and a judiciary paralyzed by politics.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bames

    I rarely read non-fiction books. Maybe it's because reality is something that is already there around me. However, this book was one of the very few non-fiction books that I have read and would probably read again. When the first woman prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated, riots ensued. As it was said that her Sikh bodyguard who shot her, thousands of Sikhs were murdered, raped, beaten, driven away, and forced to hide or deny their very existence during the anti-Sikh Riots. T I rarely read non-fiction books. Maybe it's because reality is something that is already there around me. However, this book was one of the very few non-fiction books that I have read and would probably read again. When the first woman prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated, riots ensued. As it was said that her Sikh bodyguard who shot her, thousands of Sikhs were murdered, raped, beaten, driven away, and forced to hide or deny their very existence during the anti-Sikh Riots. This book contains eyewitness accounts of what went on during those very troubled times. The title of the book has roots in remarks made by Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv, who said, "When a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little." The tree is meant to symbolize Indira Gandhi and the shaking earth denotes thousands of Sikhs who were murdered in retaliation for the assassination. The book is tough reading not because it is badly written but due to the fact that many of the eyewitness accounts paint such gruesome pictures of what happened during the riots. The book may not appeal to a lot of peoeple but it is one of the best books written about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which is considered by many as genocide.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sainath Sunil

    a devastating account of political, judicial and police involvement that resulted in a shameful carnage where mobs were paid to kill and rape Sikhs with impunity and those policemen who did act in defence of the Sikhs were either transferred or booked for negligence. this book is a testimony to the doggedness of the victims who continued to testify in front of committee after committed despite threats and intimidation, to the spirit of luminaries like soli sorabjee, sm sikri and fearless journal a devastating account of political, judicial and police involvement that resulted in a shameful carnage where mobs were paid to kill and rape Sikhs with impunity and those policemen who did act in defence of the Sikhs were either transferred or booked for negligence. this book is a testimony to the doggedness of the victims who continued to testify in front of committee after committed despite threats and intimidation, to the spirit of luminaries like soli sorabjee, sm sikri and fearless journalists who continued to keep the flame of justice alive. though the perpetrators of the vicious attack did go scotfree, it had more to do with the manner in which everyone from the judiciary to the police to the highest offices in the country were so deep in the conspiracy to annihilate the Sikhs. a troubling read for those who expect anything at all from the criminal justice machinery of this country and from the police. a warning so loud emanates from this book that it is impossible to ignore.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amit

    Most people of my generation have either heard 'folklore' pertaining to the riots OR heard umpteen TV anchors and their guests quote these in debates. This book provides a very personal 'ground-zero' kind of account of the incidents-mostly experienced by the author himself, (and supplemented by some media stories from the time) making the riots more 'relatable' - rather than just a talking point to be quoted in a drawing-room armchair discussion or to be listened to on a TV show! Most people of my generation have either heard 'folklore' pertaining to the riots OR heard umpteen TV anchors and their guests quote these in debates. This book provides a very personal 'ground-zero' kind of account of the incidents-mostly experienced by the author himself, (and supplemented by some media stories from the time) making the riots more 'relatable' - rather than just a talking point to be quoted in a drawing-room armchair discussion or to be listened to on a TV show!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kunal Medhe

    "When a big tree falls, the earth beneath shakes. " With assassination of Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards who were agitated over here armed initiative in the Golden Temple, led a mass vengeful genocide of Sikh in Delhi in 1984. This book is written by an investigative journalist Manoj Mitta and lawyer H.S Phoolka who had taken up the cases of the genocide victims. In view of recent conviction of Sajjan Kumar by Delhi High Court (35 years since the riots took place in 1984), I was prompted to "When a big tree falls, the earth beneath shakes. " With assassination of Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards who were agitated over here armed initiative in the Golden Temple, led a mass vengeful genocide of Sikh in Delhi in 1984. This book is written by an investigative journalist Manoj Mitta and lawyer H.S Phoolka who had taken up the cases of the genocide victims. In view of recent conviction of Sajjan Kumar by Delhi High Court (35 years since the riots took place in 1984), I was prompted to read this book. In independent India there have been a couple of genocides (excludes recent mobocracy incidents) which have been a blot on our democracy negating the idea of nationhood and rule of law. This book gives a perspective of H.S.Phoolka, who establishes that how difficult it is to prove state complicity to prosecute the political and bureaucratic actors. The reason being the fact that there is huge scope of compromise on evidence, investigation and delay in delivery of justice. In one of the chapters Phoolka describes how the anti-victim affidavits were all general and typical in language whereas the pro-victim affidavits were each detailed and unique. The identification of fallibility of the anti-victim affidavits did not require much judicial effort. The cowardice of the rioters is evident from the incidents where they ran away like rats on hearing fire shots. Phoolka shows that riot crowds found their strength in their collective rage and inaction of authorities rather than a moral cause. Undoubtedly, the poorer areas where the Sikhs resided were the most affected. Trilokpuri (an area in Delhi) itself had over 400 dead bodies. Phoolka does mention that one police officer was framed because he was not able to dump or incinerate the bodies compared to that of the other police officers (I've forgotten whether this statement was a part of official recording). Phoolka does not mention about any further investigation about the disposal of dead bodies of riot victims. Understanding the mechanics of a genocide prompts the police service, bureaucracy and judiciary to realize that their loyalty rests with the nation, the constitution, protecting the rue of law and not with their political masters. Politicians will come and go but the institutions of permanent executive (ie. all verticals of bureaucracy) and judiciary are here to stay, stay alive and vital along with the nation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Akash Kaushik

    This book came highly recommended, for me it is another evidence, in my arsenal of understanding the workings of the world, it shows yet again how we are all a cog in the system of things. How policies and actions taken by God impact our daily lives. Most importantly it provides a ray of optimism, to know that when one understands, how it all works, can tirelessly dedicate their life to make things better. To rebel against the mighty gods. The authors of this book go about doing just that, by usi This book came highly recommended, for me it is another evidence, in my arsenal of understanding the workings of the world, it shows yet again how we are all a cog in the system of things. How policies and actions taken by God impact our daily lives. Most importantly it provides a ray of optimism, to know that when one understands, how it all works, can tirelessly dedicate their life to make things better. To rebel against the mighty gods. The authors of this book go about doing just that, by using their own ways to make the world a slightly better place for humans. They lead meaningful lives , lives of purpose, such beings all around the world inspire us to do more worthwhile things with out time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Saurabh

    The very apt name references to one of Rajiv Gandhi's statements in the aftermath of the 1984 carnage (mass killings of Sikh) trying to justify the same - "But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little." This book made me ashamed of our great country not just because such an incident happened but also because of the failure of the legal system which punished just 13 odd people for half a dozen murder and let the political leader walk free. FYI- th The very apt name references to one of Rajiv Gandhi's statements in the aftermath of the 1984 carnage (mass killings of Sikh) trying to justify the same - "But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little." This book made me ashamed of our great country not just because such an incident happened but also because of the failure of the legal system which punished just 13 odd people for half a dozen murder and let the political leader walk free. FYI- the original official count of people dying in the carnage was 2,733, unofficial number above 3500. The book is divided into two parts - first authored by Manoj Mitta, a journalist, giving account of happening from media's perspective with inputs from the other author HS Phoolka. HS Phoolka, a Sikh, is a senior advocate practising in Delhi, giving account of the legal happenings in part two of the book. He spearheaded the long-drawn campaign for justice to the victims. I like the way he ends the book with last chapter named 'small mercy' where on a positive note he says that all the efforts have not been in vain as after the long struggle the compensation to the victims were increased manifold, the Congress leaders called out in the Nanavati report had to resign and Manmohan Singh (2005,PM) in his symbolic speech apologised to the Sikh community for the incident. The epilogue of the book briefly talks bout another carnage - Gujarat riots. On a lighter note, this book seemed like a 80-90s Bollywood movie where the government and the goons colludes against the masses. I bet many Bollwood movies of the yesteryears (esp 90s Akshay Kumar & Sunil Shetty's movies) would have taken inspiration from this book. A must read book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Arun

    A book that talks about the complicity of the State in the killing of 3000 Sikhs in three days that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi, most of which became public after the Justice Nanavati Commission report of 2004. The reports that came out in 1984 are so similar to the ones in 1990 (Kashmir), 1992(Mumbai) and 2002 (Gujarat) that it's history repeating at high frequency in the world's largest democracy. And in all the state-supported persecution of minority groups, the reports clearly A book that talks about the complicity of the State in the killing of 3000 Sikhs in three days that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi, most of which became public after the Justice Nanavati Commission report of 2004. The reports that came out in 1984 are so similar to the ones in 1990 (Kashmir), 1992(Mumbai) and 2002 (Gujarat) that it's history repeating at high frequency in the world's largest democracy. And in all the state-supported persecution of minority groups, the reports clearly show increasingly obvious State complicity, with the lowest rung of policemen indicted while the agents and principal (read ministers and top police officers) remaining scot-free. Delhi, Kashmir, Mumbai and Gujarat. The army is brought in but Home Ministers either don't set up joint command centres or delay providing administrative support for days so that the Army can't take action to bring the city under control. If Rajiv Gandhi invoked the analogy of the tree that shook Delhi in 1984, Modi invoked Newton's third law to justify what happened in 2002. Be it Sikhs, Kashmiri Pundits or Muslims, our elected representatives despite seemingly on opposite sides borrow from each other, strategies of whataboutism and rhetoric. A must-read for all generations of Indians to remind us all about the fragile nature of India's ongoing experiment with democracy and the responsibility of the civil society to uphold the values of freedomof expression, scientific temper and secularism (separation of state and religion) mentioned in our Constitution.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Balaji

    Gruesome and sorry state of affairs - the words that come to mind when one reads this book. When the entire state machinery, judiciary, political system, police all collectively failed not only in its duty to protect its citizens but also complied with people responsible for the massacre of 3000 sikhs in the aftermath of PM Indira Gandhis murder. The book exposes how despite the various judicial probes and despite evidences against tainted cops and leaders - the accused still managed to evade th Gruesome and sorry state of affairs - the words that come to mind when one reads this book. When the entire state machinery, judiciary, political system, police all collectively failed not only in its duty to protect its citizens but also complied with people responsible for the massacre of 3000 sikhs in the aftermath of PM Indira Gandhis murder. The book exposes how despite the various judicial probes and despite evidences against tainted cops and leaders - the accused still managed to evade the law by exposing loopholes in the judicial system and using the entire political power to get away from their heinous crimes. As rightly said, the only wins for the victims were the resignations of tainted ministers after two decades of inquiries and court battles and an embattled prime minister apologising to the Sikh community that justice was not delivered. Ironic that the apology came from a Sikh PM. The chapters give a blow by blow account of how everyone in the system complied to ensure that the massacre was passed off as an outburst of emotion at the passing of an eminent leader whereas in reality - it was a planned activity where the sole purpose of the attackers was teaching a "lesson" to a community. An absolute shame for the county and a reminder for us of the dark times that preceded

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amit

    This book gave an excellent perspective and insight into the tragedy of 1984. Our history books stop at independence and incidents like these occurred when we were too young to comprehend them. Without books like this one we'd never know, because the political parties will try their level best to keep such blots out of our curriculum. The only reason I've docked a star is because the writing could have been better. It tends to go a bit back and forth, a style perhaps well-suited to movies, but ge This book gave an excellent perspective and insight into the tragedy of 1984. Our history books stop at independence and incidents like these occurred when we were too young to comprehend them. Without books like this one we'd never know, because the political parties will try their level best to keep such blots out of our curriculum. The only reason I've docked a star is because the writing could have been better. It tends to go a bit back and forth, a style perhaps well-suited to movies, but gets a little annoying when it comes to reading historical non-fiction. No words can do justice to the amount of effort H. S. Phoolka has put into this singular event's aftermath. An entire life spent in struggling to provide justice in our complicated, outdated and, at times, corrupt judicial system. He deserves a lot of credit for this yeoman service!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vaibhav Anand

    'When a Tree Shook Delhi' documents the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi post Indira Gandhi's assassination - the title is from Rajiv Gandhi's speech justifying the riots ("When a big tree falls, the earth shakes," said Mr. Gandhi of the riots). A page-turning thriller on the lines of Mark Tully's 'Amritsar', the book exposes the police and political network attached to the Congress government of the day. The first half of the book is Mitta's journalistic account of the riots while the second half 'When a Tree Shook Delhi' documents the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi post Indira Gandhi's assassination - the title is from Rajiv Gandhi's speech justifying the riots ("When a big tree falls, the earth shakes," said Mr. Gandhi of the riots). A page-turning thriller on the lines of Mark Tully's 'Amritsar', the book exposes the police and political network attached to the Congress government of the day. The first half of the book is Mitta's journalistic account of the riots while the second half is an autobiographical account of the riots through Phoolka's eyes. Both are pacy thriller like reads though I enjoyed Phoolka's half better. This is the fifth book on the Gandhi family's excesses/ misdemeanors that I have read (Others, all of them good to excellent reads: Emergency Retold, The Sanjay Story, Accidental Prime Minister, Amritsar) and it did not disappoint. Recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Agnivo Niyogi

    Full Review: http://antorjatikbangali.wordpress.co... After I finished reading the book, When a tree shook Delhi: the 1984 carnage and its aftermath by Manoj Mitta and H.S.Phoolka, I sat still for a few seconds and reflected of the severity of the experience of 200 odd pages I leafed through. The book serves the useful purpose of bringing together various bits of information regarding the Sikh carnage, replete with accounts from various government sources as well as witness stories; it also raise Full Review: http://antorjatikbangali.wordpress.co... After I finished reading the book, When a tree shook Delhi: the 1984 carnage and its aftermath by Manoj Mitta and H.S.Phoolka, I sat still for a few seconds and reflected of the severity of the experience of 200 odd pages I leafed through. The book serves the useful purpose of bringing together various bits of information regarding the Sikh carnage, replete with accounts from various government sources as well as witness stories; it also raises crucial questions about what went wrong and how.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Subhash Chandra B

    You feel enraged..You feel shameful..You feel despondent. The firsthand accounts of the victims narrated in the first part of the book are tough to digest. Forget about the sophisticated concepts of democracy, pluralism and secularism, these events will dampen the very perception of humanity. The second part talking about the way the judiciary process has been dragged for years lays it bare for all to see the ugly face of Indian democracy. Kudos to both the authors for their efforts in bringing You feel enraged..You feel shameful..You feel despondent. The firsthand accounts of the victims narrated in the first part of the book are tough to digest. Forget about the sophisticated concepts of democracy, pluralism and secularism, these events will dampen the very perception of humanity. The second part talking about the way the judiciary process has been dragged for years lays it bare for all to see the ugly face of Indian democracy. Kudos to both the authors for their efforts in bringing these bitter truths into light.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Akshaj

    The only way to describe such a book is poignant,and rage inducing. How could one think that the greatest murderers of Independent India were hiding under the protective mantle of the Congress government all through these years! Justice has still not been dished out fully. Many families still cry out for their murdered and raped mothers,fathers,sisters,brothers and children. It also provides good introspection of our judicial system that so often bypasses justice in case the accused is in power The only way to describe such a book is poignant,and rage inducing. How could one think that the greatest murderers of Independent India were hiding under the protective mantle of the Congress government all through these years! Justice has still not been dished out fully. Many families still cry out for their murdered and raped mothers,fathers,sisters,brothers and children. It also provides good introspection of our judicial system that so often bypasses justice in case the accused is in power at Raisina Hill. Must read for every Indian,and otherwise.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mitesh Patel

    It is not uncommon in India that the democracy takes the back seat and people's memory fades fast. 1984 however would have been perhaps the first time that India witnessed such a brazen pogrom, that crushed democracy and the rule of law was relegated to relics. The spinelessness of the justice system is conspicuous in this book. Very well written. Those who want to understand good of India must familiarize themselves with the bad of India because it is a package deal. It is not uncommon in India that the democracy takes the back seat and people's memory fades fast. 1984 however would have been perhaps the first time that India witnessed such a brazen pogrom, that crushed democracy and the rule of law was relegated to relics. The spinelessness of the justice system is conspicuous in this book. Very well written. Those who want to understand good of India must familiarize themselves with the bad of India because it is a package deal.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ankit Chouksey

    I think it is a must read for anyone for an objective analysis of the riots that took place in 1984.The book does not go into speculation or conspiracy theory, rather it narrates the story with evidences. Who better to tell the story of people suffered than the person who has been fighting for them HS Phoolka.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ravi Malik

    An excellent book!! Shocking to read how a political party in power can instigate violence and then subvert the established laws and systems to protect itself... More than 30 years and still justice remains elusive... Have a feeling it would be an eye opener to read on the 2002 Gujarat violence too...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gurnam Sodhi

    whether 1984 or 2002, when such shameful incidences occur against a particular community with no fault of innocent people, it should be always and equally remembered as a black day. It is really unfortunate that the culprits at the top are never punished. They never get what they deserve. Just because it is the ground that is shaken and the huge trees do not get effected.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ramakrishnan M

    First half of the book is very gripping (giving gory details of the actual carnage) The second half is too much detail on how the legal cases evolve...gets a bit taxing to read Overall, an educational piece on an important part of Indian history

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