1984: India's Guilty Secret

1984: India's Guilty Secret


Pav Singh

Nowhere else in the world did the year 1984 fulfil its apocalyptic portents as it did in India

AMITAV GHOSH, author and essayist


Paperback, 304 pages, 234 x 153 mm
27 b&w photographs and 2 maps
Please read Terms & Conditions of Sale & Purchase and Shipping information

Add To Cart

Praise for the Book

'[A] comprehensive and fluent account... it is difficult to dispute Singh's contention that 1984 is an indelible stain on India's record as a pluralist democracy'
KESHAVA GUHA, Literary Review

'[E]xhaustive and relentless... [Pav Singh's] healthy obsession with speaking truth to power puts him on par with any established investigator. Like any apparatus of scholarship implemented correctly, we’re left wanting to continue the investigation ourselves.'
GARY SINGH, Los Angeles Review of Books

‘This book is a timely reminder of India’s shameful inability to account for that explosion of racial and religious hatred after Mrs Gandhi’s assassination, when eight thousand Sikhs were butchered and burned. The failure to punish this crime against humanity remains India’s guilty secret.’

'One of the darkest chapters in the history of India is the 1984 massacre — a wave of brutal, unprecedented violence against the Sikhs that swept through the nation, leaving thousands dead, burnt, butchered, widowed, raped, homeless. Author Pav Singh too was one of those affected. Feeling deeply for the cause, his new book investigates the truth behind the gruesome year.'

''1984: India’s Guilty Secret' does something most books in its genre can’t – it keeps its promise. It’s a scathing and almost brutal journalistic read rich with data and mention of instances that have become a permanent fixture in the memories of one of the largest communities of our country, unfortunately.'

'[T]his book will open readers eyes to a horrifying picture of the extent to which power will go to silence dissent through fear... impossible to put down'

‘This is a powerful and compelling study of an appalling case of mass violence in the world’s largest democracy.’

‘Pav Singh’s book makes for necessarily difficult, yet necessary, reading.’
DR PAUL MOORE, University of Leicester

‘This work has been long overdue in coming... Pav Singh provides a new way of looking at the targeted killings of Sikhs by placing it within the developing international jurisprudence on state-sponsored killings of specific communities and sexual violence upon its women.’
DR UMA CHAKRAVARTI, Indian historian and feminist

About the Book

In November 1984, the ruling elite of the world's largest democracy conspired to murder thousands of their country's citizens in genocidal massacres reminiscent of Nazi-era Germany while the world watched on.

Over four days, armed mobs brutally and systematically butchered, torched and raped members of the minority Sikh community living in Delhi and elsewhere. The sheer scale of the killings exceeded the combined civilian death tolls of the conflict in Northern Ireland, Tiananmen Square and 9/11. In Delhi alone 3,000 people were killed. The full extent of what took place has yet to be fully acknowledged.

This definitive account based on harrowing victim testimonies and official accounts reveals how the largest mass crime against humanity in India's modern history was perpetrated by politicians and covered up with the help of the police, judiciary and media. The failings of Western governments - who turned a blind eye to the atrocities for fear of losing trade contracts worth billions - are also exposed.

About the Author

PAV SINGH was born in Leeds, England, the son of Punjabi immigrants. As a member of the Magazine and Books Industrial Council of the National Union of Journalists he has been instrumental in campaigning on the issues surrounding the 1984 massacres.

In 2004, he spent a year in India researching the full extent of the pogroms (from which members of his extended family narrowly escaped) and the subsequent cover-up. He met with survivors and witnessed the political fall-out and protests following the release of the flawed Nanavati Report into the killings. His research led to the pivotal and authoritative report 1984 Sikhs’ Kristallnacht, which was first launched in the UK Parliament in 2005 and substantially expanded in 2009.

In his role as a community advocate at the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, London, he curated the exhibition ‘The 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogroms Remembered’ in 2014 with Delhi-based photographer Gauri Gill.

For author events, talks and interviews see our What's On page.

Design: Tia Džamonja / Paul Smith Design (cover)
Publication Date: 1 November 2017
ISBN: 9781911271086