Jaspreet Singh: ‘A huge crime against humanity’

heliumJaspreet Singh, author of Helium, talks about his new novel based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Jaspreet Singh is a trained chemist and an award-winning Canadian-Indian author. His new novel Helium, on the anti-Sikh pogrom, is told from the point of view of a guilty police officer’s son. Excerpts from an interview:

Why Helium?

In the story, the element Helium was the research specialisation of Raj’s professor at IIT- Delhi. This ‘cosmic’ element has peculiar and very fascinating properties. For instance, Helium does not ‘burn’.

Why did you choose to tell the story of the Sikh pogrom from a Hindu point of view?

November 1984 was a huge crime against humanity. I was curious about the second-generation: the children of perpetrators, organisers, and facilitators of the crimes. Raj, the narrator, faces a huge predicament. His father, a senior IPS officer, facilitated the violence. The police, as you know, were under the direct control of the central government. Under the watchful eyes of the cops, a mob directed by senior Congress party leaders burnt alive Raj’s beloved IIT professor.

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