Maker of a documentary film on anti-Sikh massacre receives national award, calls it a victory for those fighting for justice

Teenaa Kaur Pasricha is a very happy person. Director of When the Sun didn’t rise, she received the National Film Award for Best Investigative film in India recently.

Anti Sikh riots
Image Courtesy: Teenaa Kaur Pasricha

But her happiness has nothing to do with her personal achievement. She is happy that the award has given recognition to an important issue and marks a victory for those who have been fighting for justice to the victims of anti-Sikh massacre of 1984.

Speaking to Straight over the phone from India, Pasricha said that the award helps in breaking the silence over such a heinous crime against humanity and helps the cause of the human rights activists who have remained steadfast in their campaign for justice.

Based on her interviews with the survivors of the violence and the orphaned children who have grown into drug addicts because of lack of support, When the Sun didn’t rise is perhaps first serious effort to open a dialogue with those who continue to suffer long term effects of the bloodshed.

Thousands of Sikhs were murdered across India following the assassination of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. The massacre was well organized by the slain leader’s ruling Congress party with the help of the police. Years have passed but no justice has been served to the victims’ families. The high profile perpetrators remain unpunished.

Among the people interviewed by Pasricha in the documentary include senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler – who was allegedly involved in the crime, but continues to deny charges against him.

Being a Sikh woman herself she was personally affected by the violence. One of her uncles was attacked by the mob and his hair was forcibly cut by the mob. For a practicing Sikh, keeping long hair is a sacred duty. “I learnt from my mother how my uncle remained depressed for some time because of the humiliation.”



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