The 1984 Project: The First Interview

by Rita Suri

in Global Connections

Post image for The 1984 Project: The First Interview

The 1984 Project’s description for Global Connections–ON the ROAD:
Mashuq Deen is traveling with Meetu Chilana and Rita Suri to Amritsar, Chandigarh and Delhi, India to work with Roopak Kala and Welfare Society, a theatre troupe and social activist organization, on the development of a work about the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and to engage in dialogue with those most affected by the massacre. This post was originally shared on the blog, “The 1984 Project”. We’re reposting it here to highlight the work of Global Connections grantees and their collaborators.

The First Interview, by Rita Suri:
Kavita Sarna, a school principle in Ghaziabad shared her horrific experience of the 1984 riots with me during a short interview. My host family in Ghaziabad put me in touch with her. They knew she had a great deal to share about what she’d witnessed. When I reached the elementary school, Kavita greeted me inside her office and offered a cup of tea. She smiled warmly as I sat down and prepared to ask a set of interview questions. She preferred, however, to simply recite what she remembered in great detail. As an interviewer, I wanted to make her feel as comfortable as possible given the nature of the discussion, so I simply listened as she recalled the events.

It was chilling to hear that she’d been trapped on a train with her family for more than a week while traveling from Asaam to Ghazibad after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. She’d witnessed Sikh men being dragged from trains and lit on fire by mobs. Kavita feared she would face a similar fate. Luckily, she was able to return home safely after days of traveling without basic necessities. Once she’d arrive in Ghaziabad, she found her entire house had been burned to the ground.

As Kavita recollected these events, it seemed as though she’d been longing to formally share her experience. I hoped her recalling and recording these events would be a healing experience in itself. Kavita seemed assured to know that her experience would be known to a larger audience.

It was an honor to speak with a person of such resilience and fortitude.

1984 Project Collaborators

mashuq deen 1MASHUQ DEEN
Deen is a queer playwright and performer, and a current 2050 Fellow at NYTW. (



rita_suri1RITA SURI
A graduate of the United World College-USA and current student at NYU-Gallatin, Rita studies theater and literature with an emphasis on Asian America.



meetu_chilana1MEETU CHILANA
Meetu Chilana is a Singer/Songwriter and Actress that recently finished a world tour with Cirque du Soleil.




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