Adam Holloway MP Organises Event for Sikhs of Gravesham to Mark Deaths of Shaheeds (Martyrs) of 1984

—On the 4th of June, Adam Holloway, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Gravesham, UK, organised and hosted an event beneath the portrait of Duke of Wellington, in one of the grandeur rooms of the House of Commons. 

Mr Holloway said:

“My aim being that the Sikhs of Gravesham should mark the deaths of all those voiceless people who died on the 30th anniversary, under the auspices of the Presidents of our two Gurdwaras, in the cradle of our democracy.”

Adam Holloway MP welcoming the group
Adam Holloway MP welcoming the group

Mr Holloway wanted to read out all of the names of those who had died in 1984, but after his attempts of trying to find a complete list, he couldn’t. Instead, he read the account of the murder of a young Sikh that he had witnessed on a train.

Terror fills train as mob with clubs takes bloody reprisal against Sikhs

By Sidarth Bhatia

Had I read about this, I might have dismissed it as far-fetched. But I saw it.

The Rajdhani Express, India’s premier train, a 17 and a half hour, 1000 mile run from Bombay to New Delhi, arrived at its second stop, Ratlam, on schedule at 1 a.m. Friday. Passengers were roused by an announcement warning them there was “trouble” ahead and they could disembark if they wished. Few did.

The train made an unscheduled stop at Mathura at 8:30 a.m. There was another announcement, and a few more passengers got off.

A teen-age Sikh boy, until then calmly listening to music on his portable stereo, was advised by some passengers to take shelter at Mathura station, where he would be safe with some soldiers.

He took the advice, but two other Sikhs in the car – identifiable by their beards, turbans and long hair – declined. One was alone, the other had his wife and a son and daughter with him.

On the outskirts of New Delhi, the train stopped again at a small station, Tughlakabad. A voice announced that passengers should lock all doors and keep all windows curtained.

We did not know why. Although we knew of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, allegedly by Sikh bodyguards, we had only a vague indication of the subsequent Hindu attacks on members of the Sikh sect.

Three minutes later we knew.

About a hundred people, all young men, began hammering on the doors of the halted train, pounding at the compartment door windows with iron rods and stones. There was a crunching sounds, then a cheer. The window had broken.

Four youths, unkempt and wielding sticks, came into our car. I was sitting near the door and one glanced at me, pondering over my beard.

“Come out, all the Sikhs in here!” one shouted.

“There are none here.” A passenger said softly. “There are none here,” repeated one of the youths and they turned to go.

Just then a few of their companions entered the car, some with iron rods, others with long black rubber pipes.

The armed brigade marched down the aisle between the seats. Suddenly there was a shout. “Here!” Here! Come here! We got one of these fellows.”

As the passenger slowly got to their feet and turned to look, there was a sound of scuffling and a series of sickening thuds. For a minute or so, everything was hidden from my view. Then the crowd in the aisle parted.

Two teen-age girls, travelling with their mother, screamed hysterically. The other passengers did not react. They just looked on silently.

One of the marauding youths was pulling a Sikh man by his long hair. Three other attackers followed, hitting the Sikh with their rods. He held onto the seats, refusing to move. His shirt became spattered with blood.

A girl screamed and one of the mob looked at her soothingly and said: “Don’t worry, sister. We will not do anything to you. We are after them. They are killing our womenfolk. We will not spare them.”

Finally one of the youths broke the Sikh’s hold on a seat. They hauled the beaten, deeply wounded man outside. The crowd collected him and continued their relentless onslaught. We could only watch from the windows. No one got down onto the platform.

A few moments later an acrid smell floated into the car through the broken window. The crowds parted, and we saw flames leap up from the body of the Sikh, a man who just 15 minutes before had been riding peacefully with us from Bombay.

Inside the train, none of us spoke. Then a few passengers got up, went to the toilet and banged on the door. It slowly opened, and a terrified, turbaned Sikh came out with his teen-age son. They had been hiding, and were overlooked by the mob.

“Please cut off your hair and beard,” an elderly passenger told the Sikhs. Father and son hesitated, but only for a second, then grabbed a pair of scissors someone held out. They re-emerged from the toilet 15 minutes later, newly shorn, the son wearing the cap of a fellow passenger.

The train remained at Tughlakabad for three hours, the last two without lights and air-conditioning. We were given no explanation.

At 1:30 p.m., it departed, carrying many passengers who had been stranded on an earlier at the same station. They spoke of similar incidents. Apparently at least seven and possibly as many as 30 Sikhs had been killed.


The event started with a welcome from Mr Holloway, ardas (prayer) by Seva Singh Lalli, words from the Prime Minister’s Indian diaspora champion Priti Patel MP, then a series of short speeches from senior Sikhs. 

A coach then returned the Sikhs to Gravesham after a restrained and dignified affair. 


Sikhs from Gravesham with Adam Holloway MP



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