It was just a tragic incident!

It was just a tragic incident!

Decades have passed since the massacre of Sikhs was organized by a few criminal politicians across India. Cases have been opened and reopened but not a single politician has yet been punished. The recent acquittal of Sajjan Kumar is yet another blow to India’s justice system.


While for the common man, the faith in Indian justice system has been punched hard but the feelings expressed through words of Ajay Shukla in the poem below, original in Hindi and translated by the poet in English, gives hope that there are many out there who care.


Ajay and I worked together at American Express in Chennai in the period 1993-95.


This being a photography website, I am reflecting my feelings through the photo below as a young boy of 17 years, trapped in home, when the dark hands of murderers surrounded the houses of Sikhs in every city of India.



1984 – A Tragic Incident


उस साल नवम्बर के महीने में
दिल्ली की रूह में छिपी दरिंदगी
हैवानी नक्श लेकर सडकों पर
शूर सिंघों के क़त्लआम में नहीं उतरी थी

वो तो बस एक हादसा था

It was the month of November that year
When savages hiding in Delhi’s soul, my dear
Turned into the devil himself
To walk the streets of Delhi not to kill the brave Sikhs

It was just a tragic incident


एक बरगद का पेड़ उस रात
आंधी के थपेड़ों से उलझ कर
हज़ारों मासूमों की ज़िन्दगी को
एक पल में ख़ाक में मिलाने को नहीं गिरा था

   वो तो बस एक हादसा था

When that night a mighty banyan tree
After wrestling with the winds, you see
Did not fall to the ground
To bury thousands of innocents in the dust

Well it was just a tragic incident


बेशक्ल कातिलों का हुजूम
आँखों से अंगारे उगलता
ऐसे अंगारे जो खून से बुझें
वो खून जो बहा था वो मेरा और तेरा कहाँ था?

वो तो बस एक हादसा था

Crowds of faceless murderers rise
Spewing fire from their fearsome eyes
Fire that could be doused only with blood
Wasn’t the blood that was spilt, wasn’t it yours or mine?

Well, it was just a tragic incident


गली में टायरों पे जलती लाश का धुंआ
रबड़ और जिस्म की बूवाला धुंआ
ऊपर वाले से इन्साफ की गुहार करता धुंआ
हमारी दौलत मंद कॉलोनी से कहीं नहीं उठा था

वो तो बस एक हादसा था

Fumes rose from the body burning on a tire
Fumes that smelled of rubber and flesh on fire
Fumes that rose to pray to the Lord for justice
Those fumes did not rise from my affluent colony

Well, it was just a tragic incident


मोहल्ले में दीवारों को चीरती चीख
माओं, बेटियों, बीविओं की चीख
बिलखते बच्चों और बापों की चीख
मुझे तो सुनाई नहीं दी? शायद एक सपना था

वो तो बस एक हादसा था

Screams that pierced the walls of the houses
Screams of mothers, daughters and spouses
Screams of children and fathers too
I didn’t hear those screams? Perhaps, a bad dream

Well, it was just a tragic incident


अंधे कानून का गूंगा फैसला
थकी आँखों से टपका वो आंसू
एक मुल्क के ज़मीर की मौत
यह सब क्या आज हुआ? मुझे तो इल्म ही था

वो तो बस एक और हादसा था

Blind justice rendered a verdict so dumb

Tears dropped from her eyes too numb
A nation’s conscience died away
Did all this happen today?
I didn’t even care to know 

Well, it was just a tragic incident


Ajay Shukla is Managing Director, McGraw-Hill Education, India. Earlier, he had headed the Indian Edition Division of Reader’s Digest. He is a graduate from The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), and an MBA from the University of Delhi. He writes Hindi and Urdu poetry, and is trained in Indian classical vocal and Tabla music. He lives in New Delhi with his wife, daughter and son.

1984 - A tragic incident!


  1. Manpreet Singh

    Very moving!It pains deep inside.

    • kawa nain singh

      i wish this should have not happened .the only solution is in the hands of god.for example when rajiv said when a big tree falls the earth shakes. and see what happened to him i feel when god gives power to someone to rule he should do justice to all.

  2. Hardev Singh

    All means and medium needs to be employed to shame the shameless guilty and their current accomplices, again and again, day after day, year after year until revulsion destroys the nefarious edifice. The seeds sown in 1984 are now seen in the form of rapes of women and little girls, unbridled corruption, rotten police, politicians and judiciary. India is in a downward spiral, it needs to search its conscience.

  3. Dhiraj

    Very moving poem indeed. Such a shameful tragedy it was. Will India ever come out of this horrible mess it continues to sink deeper into. Politically and morally its a downward spiral. Very very sad..

  4. Satinder Rekhi

    Very well written

  5. Ajay Shukla

    Dear Readers: Thank for your comments and regret if this poem touched a raw nerve with some of you.

    In my view – How can we forget 1984? We should not. Unless we hang our heads in shame today we cannot teach future generations tomorrow about the senselessness of such mass atrocities in a civilized society. Unfortunately we are are still far from being a civilized nation…

  6. Jaishankar AL

    So nicely written, Ajay. Stirs an emotional cord deep down…

  7. Surupa Chatterjee

    What a moving poem ….speechless…..pained…

  8. Navtej

    It is 1 AM in the morning…going to go to bed. I do not know why, these tears do not stop. Very anguished. Thanks for putting into words, what my mind full of jumbled thoughts and feelings couldn’t.

  9. Kanwarbir Singh

    Thanks for putting what you noticed during 1984. In a few words, you said a lot. Rich areas vs How bad would it be in the ordinary living areas. Immunity to those Evil heads who lead the crowds to kill, rape the innocents. We already have heard a lots of stories about brave people who saved their neighors by putting their own lives at risk, that’s a proof that humanity exists. Sikhs are never afraid of death because of their strong beliefs in their True Guru (Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) and it is my strong belief that those Souls have or will come back to earth even with more Chardhikala, whereas the Killers of innocents will not have any peace of mind in this life or thereafter.
    Sikhs will keep on praying to Waheguru ji for “Nanak Naam ChardhiKala Teray Bhaney Sarbatt Da Bhalla”.

  10. Himadri Banerjee, University of Kolkata

    On the one hand, I remember with deep respect those innocent departed souls who had suffered during the fateful days of 1984 and on the other, my head goes down because many of those who had undertaken the holocaust are still free and not behind the bar.


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