With the 28 anniversary of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots nearing, a petition signed by several eminent citizens is being sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that all cases closed by the police be reinvestigated and all culprits brought to book. They are also demanding a strong law to deal with communal and sectarian violence.
The signatories to the petition include Justices V.R. Krishna Iyer and Hosbet Suresh, journalist Kuldip Nayar, lawyers Fali S. Nariman, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, and academics Madhu Kishwar and Nandini Sundar.
Justice Krishna Iyer in his letter to the Prime Minister says: “It is a commentary on the state of our country that 65 years after our country was brutally Partitioned accompanied by the biggest communal holocaust in the history of humankind, 28 years after the massacre of Sikhs in 1984, and eight years since your government first accepted that such a law must be enacted, nothing has been done in this direction. It calls into question the sincerity of your government regarding ending such massacres in the future.”
The signatories also demand that the principle of command responsibility be included in the new law so that those in position of power should be held accountable and guilty for violation of their duty and failure to safeguard the lives of citizens.
Addressing a Press conference here, senior advocate H. S. Phoolka said if the culprits of the 1984 violence had been punished then the 1993 Mumbai, 2002 Gujarat, 2007 Kandhamal and 2012 Kokrajhar communal violence and targeting of minorities would not have taken place.
He also complained that the higher judiciary did not use its powers to prosecute the 1984 riots accused and were under political pressure which ensured that all the related cases were taken away from judges who intended to initiate action.
Lok Raj Sangathan president S. Raghavan said the judgment in the Naroda Patiya case, in which former Gujarat Minister Maya Kodnani was convicted and sentenced for 28 years, has sent across a strong message. He called for the reopening of all cases based on witness testimonies before the various commissions appointed by the successive Governments since 1984.
Journalist Jarnail Singh, the author of I Accuse…The Anti-Sikh Violence of 1984, who had thrown a shoe at former Home Minister P. Chidambaram in 2009, said there was much heartburn in the Sikh community at receiving justice in the anti-Sikh riot cases.
Two student leaders of the Socialist Yuvajan Sabha and an activist of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan also expressed support for the “Forgotten Citizens 1984 Justice Campaign for 1984”.
As part of the campaign, a travelling photo exhibition depicting the gruesome and barbaric nature of the crimes committed during the 1984 anti-Sikh violence is commencing from Jallianwala Bagh on Sunday and will reach Delhi on October 30 after passing through various cities in Punjab. The exhibition, the first ever on the riots, will be on display at Delhi University on October 30, will also be on display at Ashok Vihar, Jail Road, Patel Nagar, Kalkaji ‘B’ Block, Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, and culminate at Jantar Mantar on November 3.
A protest demonstration and a candlelight vigil will be held at Jantar Mantar on November 3, followed by a one-day seminar where an effective legislation against communal and sectarian violence will be discussed. On November 9, a public hearing will be held at the India International Centre to highlight the failure of the State to provide justice to victims of the riots.