(Courtesy [he spokesman)

Mandip Singh, a young Doctor trainee, Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi, the grandson of Captain Bhag Singh the Editor The Sikh Review is perhaps the only one who has escaped from burning death. He writes to his grandfather his ordeal of fire. Editors

Dearest Papaji, Sat Sri Akal

It is with mixed feeling that I pen down this letter. A feeling of great rage at the insensate massacre of innocent Sikhs, and yet relief that the perpetrators of this orgy of madness were but the lumped proletariat the scum of the earth.

I do not speak as a casual observer from a distance but as a victim of this unfortunate holocaust. This is my story: “On the fateful evening of 31st October at about 5 pm. I was merrily proceeding towards Safdarjang Hospital proudly astride my newest acquisition, a Royal Enfield 350. At a traffic crossing short of the Safdarjang flyover, a constable waved me on quite blissfully oblivious of the commotion that prevailed on the other side. At the crest of the flyover I was suddenly confronted with the blood curling cries of a mob of about 500 hooligans who were until then obscured from my field of vision while I ascended the flyover. On sighting them I made a vain bid to turn full circle on a one way street to retrace my path but to no avail. My motorcycle coughed, spluttered and came to a halt. The mob was on me in a flash and I resigned myself to fate. They systematically, with total nonchalance deprived me of my gold chain, my citizen quartz watch, wallet, driving license, etc. and then proceeded to brutally thrash me.

After setting my bike and turban alight they stood me up, doused my hands and trouser with petrol and set a match to my hands to the sadistic delight of other members of the mob who would certainly have derived immense pleasure at the sight of a human torch. My presence of mind aided me in that. I threw away my turban and thwarted their attempts by extinguishing the flames emanating from my burning hands by smothering them against the back of my cotton shirt, which was dry. This I was able to achieve because once alight the men who held me from behind let me loose.

I was subsequently driven to the ground and stoned, a brick striking my head with blood profusely flowing from the gash in my scalp and my nose. Two young boys in the crowd who were there, more by accident than by design, recognized me as a doctor from Safdariang Hospital and implored the others to stop but obviously the mob had not had quite enough. So they bodily lifted me up and with my torso suspended over the edge of the flyover attempted to fling me down from that treacherous height. My whole life flashed before my eyes in that split second, and before I knew I was vaulted back on to the flyover by two youngsters.

“My hair matted with clotted blood, I lay face down on the blood splattered road half-conscious a pathetic sight. In a jiffy the same two youngsters held me by my wrist and whispered that I should run for my life with them, and so the three of us pelted down the flyover. I half running half staggering. The mob temporarily confused did not pursue us, but having realized their folly pelted us with stones. Nevertheless we ran into a construction site at a nearby Civil Aviation colony. Raju rushed home to fetch me a glass of water and came back with his father, a Hindu gentleman, Mr. Kaushal, who immediately rushed me to his residence where I was washed and offered a glass of warm milk. I was then comfortably ensconced and locked in a small room and my message delivered to the father of a very dear friend of mine, Air Marshal K. D. Chadha, with assurance that I was safe but hurt and with the request not to come and collect me till instructed because absolute mayhem prevailed on the flyover.

The President’s motorcade was stoned as it returned from the adjoining All India Institute of Medical Sciences with not even the admonition of the policemen. I am given to believe that in the ensuing five hours at the same flyover as many as a dozen Sikhs returning from offices, were singularly extracted from buses and cars and brutally done to death.

At 11:30 p.m. uncle Chadha was instructed to come and retrieve me which he did in a flag car with an armed escort and I was rushed to hospital.

All senior hospital staff examined me but fortunately there was no grievous injury. The next 11 days were spent at Chadha uncle’s house recuperating from both the physical and mental trauma sustained.

I talked to Daddy (Bombay) every day from Delhi but restrained from relating the incident to them lest in their anxiety they came to Delhi where the situation was calamitous to say the least.

Strengthening of Faith

In retrospect it was only divine influence and the hand of Satguruji which saved me and blessed. Me with a new lease of life through the agency of those two Hindu boys and the noble families of Mr. Kaushal and Air Marshal Chadha. I have emerged from the incident a firm believer in the omnipresence of the Satgur Nanak who aware of the good deeds and fervent prayers of my noble grandparents, and parents, stood by me in the period of grave crisis. Also I am now a stronger individual and harbour the belief that may be in my lifetime I have a goal to fulfill, a sense of purpose to serve the ailing masses which I shall endeavor to carry out with renewed zest.

Mummy and Daddy in thanks giving did akhand path and langar, bhog of which was performed on Sunday morning amidst considerable sangat.

I end now with the conviction that it is in selfless and enlightened scholars as you that our future rests and you would show us the right way. Fond love to dearest

Bhabiji (grand-mother). Your darling Grandson Mandip Singh

Article extracted from this publication >> May 17, 1985