Posted by : Shoumik Das Thursday, May 2, 2013
By Niticentral Staff
Delhi has erupted in protests once again seeking justice for those who perished in the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984. The acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar sparked protests. Sikhs stormed Metro stations in various parts of the Capital. Three decades have passed since 3000 Sikhs were slaughtered in an organised, Government-sponsored massacre. Victims and survivors have been running from pillar to post in their search of justice. Denied what is due to them, their condition today has come to be defined by anger and anguish.
The last few days have been more of the same for the Sikhs. After the acquittal of Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in cases relating tothe 1984 massacres, justice seems nowhere in sight for the community. Below is a summary of events and facts on the matter so that we may not forget what
Who said what ?
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal : “The acquittal of Sajjan Kumar is sad and very unfortunate. We will challenge it in a highercourt.”
Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha : “Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team should be appointed to probe the anti-Sikh pogrom.”
Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister : “Congress would not be allowed to put a lid on 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom.”
Naresh Gujral, SAD MP : “Gandhi family is the main perpetrators of 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. Sikhs cannot expect any justice from the Congress Government for the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom.”
Manjit Singh GK, President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee : “Until Congress Government is in power, judiciary will be giving this kind of verdicts. I think the victims of 1984 must be in tears today… you can kill as many people in the country and walk free.”
Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi : “It has been politicised. The court has taken a decision and if someone doesn’t feel it is right or injustice has been done, they can appeal in higher court. But there is no need to politicise it.”
Renuka Chowdhary, Congress spokesperson : “The court has taken a decision and acquitted Sajjan Kumar and we don’t want to comment on that. We respect the court and whatever they have said.”
Timeline of events
First day (October 31)
9:20 am : Indira Gandhi is shot by two of her Sikh security guards at her residence, No. 1 Safdarjung Road, and rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
10:50 am : Indira Gandhi dies.
11:00 am : All India Radio listeners learn that the two security guards who shot Indira Gandhi were Sikhs.
4:00 pm : Rajiv Gandhi returns from West Bengal and reaches AIIMS. Stray incidents of attacks in and around that area.
5:30 pm : The motorcade of President Zail Singh, who is returning from a foreign visit, is stoned as it approaches AIIMS.
Evening and night
Organised and well-equipped gangs of hooligans set out in different directions from AIIMS.
The violence, including violence towards Sikhs and destruction of Sikh properties, spreads.
Meanwhile, Rajiv Gandhi is sworn-in as the Prime Minister.
Senior advocate and BJP leader Ram Jethmalani, meets Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao and urges him to take immediate steps to protect Sikhs from further attacks.
Delhi’s Lt. Governor, PG Gavai and Police Commissioner, S.C. Tandon, visits some of the affected areas.
Second day (November 1)
The first killing of a Sikh occurs in east Delhi.
9:00 am : Armed mobs take over the streets of Delhi and launch a massacre.
Among the first targets are Gurdwaras, the holy temples of Sikhs
The worst affected areas are low income colonies like Trilokpuri, Shahdara, Geeta Colony, Mongolpuri, Sultanpuri and Palam Colony. The few areas where the local Police Stations take prompt measures against mobs see hardly any killings or major violence. Farsh Bazar and Karol Bagh are two such examples.
Third day (November 2)
Curfew is announced throughout Delhi, but is not enforced. The Army deployed throughout Delhi too but ineffective because the police did not co-operate with soldiers (who are not allowed to open fire without the consent of senior police officers and executive magistrates).
Mobs continue to rampage.
Fourth day (November 3)
Violence continued. By late evening, the national Army and local police units work together to subdue the violence. After law enforcement intervention, violence is comparatively mild and sporadic. In Delhi, the dead bodies of the victims of riots were taken to All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi and Civil Hospital Mortuary Tis hazari, Delhi.
The Delhi High Court, while pronouncing its verdict on a riots-related case in 2009, stated:
“ Though we boast of being the world’s largest democracy and the Delhi being its national capital, the sheer mention of the incidents of 1984 anti-Sikh riots in general and the role played by Delhi Police and state machinery in particular makes our heads hang in shame in the eyes of the world polity.”
There are allegations that the government destroyed evidence and shielded the guilty. Asian Age, ran a front-page story calling the government actions “the mother of all cover-ups.”
From 31 October 1984 to 10 November 1984, human rights groups People’s Union for Democratic Rights and People’s Union for Civil Liberties conducted an inquiry into the riots by interviewing victims, police officers, neighbours of the victims, army personnel and political leaders. In their joint report, entitled Who Are The Guilty? they concluded:
The attacks on members of the Sikh Community in Delhi and its suburbs during the period, far from being a spontaneous expression of madness and of popular grief and anger at Indira Gandhi’s assassination as made out to be by the authorities, were the outcome of a well organised plan marked by acts of both deliberate commissions and omissions by important politicians of the Congress (I) at the top and by authorities in the administration.
Eyewitness accounts obtained by Time magazine states the Delhi Police looked on as “rioters murdered and raped, having gotten access to voter records that allowed them to mark Sikh homes with large Xs, and large mobs being bused in to large Sikh settlements”. Time reported the riots only led to minor arrests and that no major politician or police officer had been convicted and quotes Ensaaf, a human rights organisation, as saying the Government worked to destroy evidence of involvement by refusing to record First Information Reports (FIRs).
A Human Rights Watch report published in 1991 on violence between Sikh separatists and the Government of India traces part of the problem back to the government response to the violence:
Despite numerous credible eye-witness accounts that identified many of those involved in the violence, including police and politicians, in the months following the killings, the government sought no prosecutions or indictments of any persons, including officials, accused in any case of murder, rape or arson.
There are allegations that the violence was led and often perpetrated by Indian National Congress activists and sympathisers during the riot. The government, then led by the Congress, was widely criticised for doing very little at the time, possibly acting as a conspirator. Voting lists were used to identify Sikh families.
A few days prior to the massacre, many surviving Sikh youth in Delhi had retaliated in either joining or creating Sikh militant groups.This lead to series of more violence in the Punjab, where several assassinations of senior Congress party members took place. The Khalistan Commando Force and Khalistan Liberation Force took responsibility of the targeted hits in retaliation. An underground network had also been established between the victims of the genocide and Sikh extremists.
On 31 July 1985, Harjinder Singh Jinda, Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Ranjit Singh Gill of Khalistan Commando Force assassinated Lalit Maken (Member – Parliament of India and a leader of Congress (I)) to take revenge of 1984 Anti Sikh Riots. In a 31-page booklet titled Who Are The Guilty, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) listed 227 people who led the mobs, Lalit Maken’s name was third on the list.
Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha also assassinated Congress (I) leader Arjan Dass because of his involvement in 1984 Anti-Sikh riots. Arjan Dass’s name appeared in various affidavits submitted by Sikh victims to the Nanavati Commission which was headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
In Delhi, 442 of the rioters were convicted by the courts. Forty Nine of these were sentenced to the life imprisonment, and another three to imprisonment of more than 10 years. Six Delhi Police officers were punished for lapses during the riots.
In April 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of three convicts who had challenged the High Court’s decision to award them life sentence.
Numerous commissions have been set up to investigate the riots. The most recent commission on the pogroms, headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati, submitted its 185-page report to the Home Minister, Shivraj Patil on 9 February 2005 and the report was tabled in Parliament on 8 August 2005.
Ten commissions and committees have so far enquired into the riots. The commissions below are listed in the order they were formed. Many of the primary accused were acquitted or never charge-sheeted.
This commission was appointed in November 1984. Ved Marwah, Additional Commissioner of Police, was assigned the job of enquiring into the role of the police during the carnage of November 1984. Many of the accused officers of Delhi Police went to Delhi High Court. As Ved Marwah completed his inquiry towards the middle of 1985, he was abruptly directed by the Home Ministry not to proceed further. Complete records of the Marwah Commission were taken over by the government and were later transferred to the Misra Commission. However, the most important part of the record, namely the handwritten notes of Mr Marwah, which contained important information, were not transferred to the Misra Commission.
Misra commission was appointed in May 1985. Justice Rangnath Misra, was a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India. Justice Misra submitted his report in August 1986 and the report was made public six months thereafter in February 1987. In his report, Justice Misra stated that it was not part of his terms of reference to identify any person and recommended the formation of three committees.
The commission and its report was criticised by People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Human Rights Watch as biased. A Human Rights Watch report recording the Misra Commission noted:
It recommended no criminal prosecution of any individual, and it cleared all high-level officials of directing the pogroms. In its findings, the commission did acknowledge that many of the victims testifying before it had received threats from local police. While the commission noted that there had been “widespread lapses” on the part of the police, it concluded that “the allegations before the commission about the conduct of the police are more of indifference and negligence during the riots than of any wrongful overt act.”People’s Union for Civil Liberties criticised the Misra commission for keeping information on the accused secret while revealing the names and addresses of victims of violence.
Kapur Mittal Committee
Kapur Mittal Committee was appointed in February 1987 on the recommendation of the Misra Commission to enquire into the role of the police, which the Marwah Commission had almost completed in 1985 itself, when the government asked that committee to wind up and not proceed further.
After almost two years, this committee was appointed for the same purpose. This committee consisted of Justice Dalip Kapur and Mrs Kusum Mittal, retired Secretary of Uttar Pradesh. It submitted its report in 1990. Seventy-two police officers were identified for their connivance or gross negligence. The committee recommended forthwith dismissal of 30 police officers out of 72. However, till date, not a single police officer has been awarded any kind of punishment.
Jain Banerjee Committee
This committee was recommended by the Misra Commission for recommending registration of cases. It consisted of Justice M.L. Jain, former Judge of the Delhi High Court and Mr A.K. Banerjee, retired Inspector General of Police.
The Misra Commission held in its report that a large number of cases had not been registered and wherever the victims named political leaders or police officers, cases were not registered against them. This committee recommended registration of cases against Mr Sajjan Kumar in August 1987, but no case was registered.
In November 1987, press reports criticised the government for not registering cases despite the recommendation of the committee. In December 1987, one of the co-accused along with Sajjan Kumar, namely Mr Brahmanand Gupta filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court and obtained a stay against this committee. The government did not oppose the stay. The Citizen’s Justice Committee filed an application for vacating the stay. Ultimately, the writ petition was decided in August 1989 and the high court quashed the appointment of this committee. An appeal was filed by the Citizens Justice Committee in the Supreme Court of India.
Potti Rosha Committee
Potti Rosha Committee was appointed in March 1990, by the V.P. Singh government, as a successor to the Jain Banerjee Committee.In August 1990, Potti-Rosha issued recommendations for filing cases based on affidavits victims of the violence had submitted. There was one against Sajjan Kumar. A CBI team went to Kumar’s home to file the charges. His supporters locked them up and threatened them harm if they persisted in their designs on their leader. As a result of this intimidation, when Potti-Rosha’s term expired in September 1990, Potti and Rosha decided to disband their inquiry.
Jain Aggarwal Committee
The committee was appointed in December 1990 as a successor to the Potti Rosha Committee. It consisted of Justice J.D. Jain, retired Judge of the Delhi High Court and Mr D.K. Aggarwal, retired DGP of Uttar Pradesh. This committee recommended registration of cases against H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri and Jagdish Tytler.
The Committee also suggested setting up of two – three Special Investigating Teams in the Delhi Police under a Deputy Commissioner of Police and the overall supervision by the Additional Commissioner of Police, In-charge – CID and also to review the work-load of the three Special Courts set up to deal with October – November 1984 riots cases exclusively so that these cases could be taken up on day-to-day basis.
The question of appointment of Special Prosecutors to deal with October – November 1984 riots cases exclusively was also discussed. This committee was wound up in August 1993. However, the cases recommended by this committee were not even registered by the police.
Ahuja Committee was the third committee recommended by the Misra Commission to ascertain the total number of killings in Delhi. This committee submitted its report in August 1987 and gave a figure of 2,733 as the number of Sikhs killed in Delhi alone.
The Dhillon Committee, headed by Mr Gurdial Singh Dhillon was appointed in 1985 to recommend measures for the rehabilitation of the victims. This committee submitted its report by the end of 1985. One of its major recommendations was that the business establishments, which had insurance cover, but whose insurance claims were not settled by insurance companies on the technical ground that riot was not covered under insurance, should be paid compensation under the directions of the government. This committee recommended that since all insurance companies were nationalised, they be directed to pay the claims. However, the government did not accept this recommendation and as a result insurance claims were rejected by all insurance companies throughout the country.
Narula Committee was appointed in December 1993 by the Madan Lal Khurana led BJP government in Delhi. One of the recommendations of the Narula Committee was to convince the Central Government to grant sanction in this matter.
Mr. Khurana took up the matter with the Central Government and in the middle of 1994, the Central Government decided that the matter did not fall within its purview and sent the case to the Lt. Governor of Delhi. It took two years for the Narasimha Rao Government to decide that it did not fall within Centre’s purview.
Narasimha Rao Government further delayed the case. This committee submitted its report in January 1994 and recommended the registration of cases against H.K.L. Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar. Ultimately, despite the delay by the Central government, the CBI was able to file the charge sheet in December 1994.
The Nanavati Commission
The Nanavati Commission was established in 2000 after some dissatisfaction was expressed with previous reports. It was appointedby a unanimous resolution passed in the Rajya Sabha. This commission was headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati, retired Judge of theSupreme Court of India. The commission submitted its report in February 2004. The commission reported that recorded accounts fromvictims and witnesses “indicate that local Congress leaders and workers had either incited or helped the mobs in attacking the Sikhs”. Its report also found evidence against Jagdish Tytler “to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs”. It also recommended that Sajjan Kumar’s involvement in the rioting required a closer look. The commission’s report also cleared Rajiv Gandhi and other high ranking Congress (I) party members of any involvement in organising riots against Sikhs. It did find, however, that the Delhi Police fired about 392 rounds of bullets, arrested approximately 372 persons, and “remained passive and did not provide protection to the people” throughout the rioting.
Role of Jagdish Tytler:-
Jagdish Tytler in 2010
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) closed all cases against Jagdish Tytler in November 2007 for his alleged criminal conspiracy to engineer riots against Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31 October 1984. CBI submitted areport to the Delhi court which stated that no evidence or witness was found to corroborate the allegations against Tytler of leading murderous mobs during 1984 Re-probe Tytler’s role: Court.
It was also alleged in the court that then member of Indian Parliament Jagdish Tytler was complaining to his supporters about relatively “small” number of Sikhs killed in his parliamentary constituency Delhi Sadar, which in his opinion had undermined his position in the ruling Indian National Congress Party of India.
However in December 2007, a certain witness, Jasbir Singh, who is living in California, appeared on several private television news channels in India, and stated he was never contacted by Central Bureau of Investigation. India’s main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded an explanation from the minister in-charge of CBI in Indian Parliament. However, Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachouri, who is in-charge of department of CBI, and was present in the parliament session, refused to make a statement.
On 18 December 2007, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi Court, Sanjeev Jain, who had earlier dismissed the case after CBI submitted a misleading report in his Court, ordered CBI to reopen cases relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots against Jagdish Tytler.
In December 2008, a two-member CBI team was sent to New York to record the statements of two eyewitnesses, Jasbir Singh and Surinder Singh. The two witnesses have stated that they saw Jagdish Tytler lead a mob during the riot, but did not want to come to India as they feared for their security. They also blamed the CBI for not conducting a fair trial and accused it of protecting Tytler.
However, in March 2009, CBI gave a clean chit to Tytler, amidst protests from Sikhs and the Opposition Parties.
On 7 April 2009, a Sikh reporter with Dainik Jagran, Jarnail Singh hurled his shoe at home minister P Chidambaram in protest against the clean chit given to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. He was however let off as the home minister did not want the police to pursue the case, in lieu of the upcoming Lok Sabha (general) elections.
On 9 April 2009, over 500 protesters from various Sikh organisations from all over the country gathered outside the court which was scheduled to hear CBI’s plea of closing the case against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riotscase. Later in the day, Tytler announced his decision to pull out of the Lok Sabha elections, saying he does not want to cause embarrassment to his party. This has forced the Congress party to cut the Tytler and Sajjan Kumar Lok Sabha tickets.
On 10th April 2013, Delhi court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to reopen the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler.Court ordered CBI to further probe killing of 3 persons in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which Jagdish Tytler was given a clean chit.
Source : Niti Central
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