Nirpreet Kaur – 1984 Living History

Nirpreet Kaur – 1984 Living History

Nirpreet Kaur, then 16-years-old, is an eyewitness against some of the direct perpetrators of violence in Delhi in 1984. She recounts the nexus between local politicians and the police and how Sikhs in her neighborhood, surrounded on all 4 sides, organized to fight against the marauders for 4 hours.

She explains that while Sikhs bravely put up a fight, the police finally arrived on scene. At the behest of the police, Nirpreet Kaur’s father left with the police. Then, she heard the police inspector shouting to the crowd: “tumse ek sardar nahin martaa?” (You are unable to kill even this one Sikh?)
The crowd set fire to her father, caught him as he ran, tied him to a pole and burned him to death. Kaur narrates the complicity of those around: shop owners, neighbors and the head of the local mandir/temple who aided the police and leaders in killing her father.

In this poignant and spirited account, Kaur recounts the interaction between Sajjan Kumar’s nephew and her father and names other perpetrators such as ex-MLA Mahinder Yadav, who yelled about her 9-year-old brother, “isse bhi maaro, yeh saap ka bachaa hai.” (Kill him too, he is an offspring of the same snake).

Kaur’s surviving family was taken by a neighbor to the local Air Force station. She describes what she saw there and the witness harassment and intimidation that followed the horror of the first few days of November.

Moving away from her abruptly destroyed childhood, Kaur later went to Punjab, joined the Sikh Youth Federation and married a militant, who she witnessed being killed in a police encounter. She herself was also jailed for 9 years and later tortured by Sumedh Saini (currently promoted to Director General of Police, Punjab) for a week. Following release from jail, she was forcibly re-married by her family and suffered an abusive relationship. Kaur also bravely continues to speak of the abuse of the judicial processes.

She has opened some businesses for some of the women survivors of 1984 and is providing education for second and third generation children in her ongoing attempts to assist them out of poverty.

This article first appeared at 1984 Living History on 28 June 2014. See here.



  1. ‘A cop asked, kitne murge bhun diye’: 1984 riots witness recalls horror

    Eight years later, Jagdish Kaur’s account served as clinching evidence in the conviction of Kumar and five other accused by the Delhi High Court on Monday.

    Nirpreet Kaur, an eye-witness of the 1984 Sikh massacre, and AAP leader Jarnail Singh rejoice the Delhi High Court judgement sentencing Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment in connection with the massacre, at Delhi High Court, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, December 17, 2018. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

    Updated: Dec 18, 2018 10:00 IST
    By Karn Pratap Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

    “When the chowki in-charge asked the mob, ‘kitne murge bhun diye’ (how many chickens had been roasted)… I felt I had lost faith in humanity,” Jagdish Kaur, whose husband, son and three cousins were killed in Palam Colony’s Raj Nagar in 1984, told a Delhi court on July 2, 2010. Jagdish — witness number 1 in the Palam Colony case — also said that around 9 pm on November 2, 1984, when she went to the police post to lodge a report, she heard Sajjan Kumar delivering a provocative speech, telling the public to “murder Sikhs and kill Hindus who shelter them”.
    Eight years later, her account served as clinching evidence in the conviction of Kumar and five other accused by the Delhi High Court on Monday.

    The high court said the accused were brought to justice primarily because of “the courage and perseverance of three key eyewitnesses” — Jagdish Kaur, her cousin Jagsher Singh and Nirpreet Kaur.

    All three in their statements said they had seen Sajjan Kumar inciting the mobs to attack Sikhs.

    According to Kaur’s statement, around 2 pm on November 1, 1984, a mob entered her house with weapons, pounced on her son Gurpreet Singh and dragged her husband Kehar Singh, who died of head injuries. An injured Gurpreet ran some distance before he was set on fire.

    Jagdish performed their last rites three days after their deaths, after making a pyre of the furniture and items left in the house.

    Jagdish said the police post incharge threatened her when she was filing a report. She claimed the cop tried to intimidate her by saying the people she was naming were too powerful and she wouldn’t be able to protect the rest of her family.

    Nirpreet Kaur told the court she had seen a gurdwara being burnt down and her father Nirmal Singh being burnt alive by the mob. Nirpreet said her father was taken out of their Raj Nagar home by two accused — Balwan Khokhar, who used to introduce himself as Sajjan Kumar’s nephew, and Mahender Yadav.
    Nirmal Singh, who ran a taxi stand in Anand Niketan, was president of the gurdwara.

    Nirpreet said around 5.30am on November 1, 1984, a mob attacked the gurdwara and caught her father when two men took him out for a compromise.

    She said one Ishwar Sharabi sprinkled kerosene on her father and a policeman gave the mob a matchbox. “…From his name plate, I could gather his name was Inspector Kaushik. He gave a matchbox to Kishan Khokhar, who set my father on fire. My father jumped into a nearby nala (drain) to save himself. They pulled him out and set him on fire again,” she said in her statement.

    The third witness, Jagsher Singh, said he survived as he was not a keshdhari (a turbaned Sikh) unlike his three brothers – Narender Pal Singh, Raghuvinder Singh and Kuldeep Singh – who were killed. “Between 10pm and 11pm on November 1, 1984, a vehicle stopped at our gali at Shiv Mandir Marg… 30-40 people collected there. Sajjan Kumar, MP, came out (of the car) and asked if they have done the work assigned … one of them told him they were helpless as the thekedars ) were being saved by Hindus… Sajjan Kumar told them to kill those Hindus and burn their houses,” he said in the statement.

    First Published: Dec 18, 2018 09:11 IST