H.S. Phoolka, advocate for the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims, has contradicted the recent statement of Sajjan Kumar that his name as an accused in the atrocities against Sikhs figured for the first time only during the Nanavati Commission —15 years after the riots.
In a statement that lists instances in which Mr. Kumar’s name was mentioned for alleged involvement in the massacre and mentions how he was let off, Mr. Phoolka said: “There is ample evidence to show how the police and the government have been shielding him from the beginning.”
One too many
The statement said that a large number of victims had named Mr. Kumar in 1984 itself and many of these witnesses told volunteers working in relief camps of his “involvement” as the police were not registering their complaints. Based on these allegations, a delegation of Opposition leaders met the Prime Minister on November 6, 1984 and apprised him of alleged involvement of Mr. Kumar. This news appeared in many newspapers on November 7, 1984, said Mr Phoolka.
As the police were not registering complaints, human rights groups started their own enquiry and later the Misra Commission agreed with the victims that the police did not register cases wherever the victims named political leaders.
Mr. Kumar’s alleged role prominently figured in the report ‘Who are the Guilty’ published by the PUCL and PUDR in the last week of November 1984 as also in other reports published by rights groups in December 1984 and January 1985.
Ambassador Gurbachan Singh (retd.) and former Governor Gobind Narain also informed the Nanavati Commission that while they were holding enquiries as part of Justice Sikri’s Citizens Commission in December 1984, a number of victims named Mr. Kumar.
Twelve affidavits were filed against Mr. Kumar from July to September 1985 before the Misra Commission of Inquiry, the statement added. The Misra Commission, in its report in February 1987, also found that the police did not register cases wherever political leaders were named. However, Justice Misra recommended the formation of another committee for that purpose as he said that it was not a part of his terms of reference to recommend registration of criminal cases.
In August 1987, the Jain-Banerjee Committee, consisting of Justice M.L. Jain and A.K. Banerjee-IG (retd.), recommended registration of cases against Mr. Kumar but no case was registered by the police.
In 1990, during the tenure of the V.P. Singh government, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered a case against Mr. Kumar. When CBI officials arrested him at his house, a mob gathered and burnt the jeeps of the CBI. In 1991, the Delhi Police sent a report to the prosecution branch to close the case against him in FIR No. 67/87 of P.S. Nangloi, but the prosecution branch rejected the recommendation and maintained that sufficient evidence against him existed to file a chargesheet.
Faced with this on April 8, 1992, the Delhi Police prepared a chargesheet against Mr. Kumar for the murder of four Sikhs and the same was signed by the Inspector and the ACP. The charge sheet also recorded that he was not arrested due to a law and order problem and the court may summon him. This chargesheet had not been filed in the court till date, said Mr. Phoolka.
In 1991, the police registered FIR No. 418/91 at Nangloi against Mr. Kumar on the recommendations of the Jain-Aggarwal Committee. During investigation, his name appeared prominently in the statements of the witnesses, but the police gave a clean chit to him and filed a chargesheet in 1995 against other accused.
More affidavits, yet…
From 1991 to 1993, the Jain-Aggarwal Committee recommended registration of cases against Mr. Kumar based on 17 affidavits filed by the victims in 1985 and 1987, but the police did not register any case. In 1995 when newspapers reported the 17 affidavits against him were lying in the Home Ministry and no case was registered, Madan Lal Khurana, then Chief Minister of Delhi, threatened to approach the Human Rights Commission if the cases were not registered.
In 1996, the police, acting on the 17 affidavits, registered only seven cases which were closed by the police and again no chargesheet was filed in any of these cases, giving the Congress leader a clean chit.
In 2001, Mr. Kumar was acquitted by the court on the basis of evidence given by the two police officials that he did not visit Sultanpuri area during the riots. An appeal against this judgment is still pending in the Delhi High Court.
Between 2000 and 2001, a number of affidavits against him were filed before the Nanavati Commission, and in 2005, the Commission recommended registration of cases against him. On August 8, 2005, the government tabled the Action Taken Report before Parliament and rejected the recommendations of the Nanavati Commission to register cases against Mr. Sajjan Kumar. Parliament did not function for 3 days. Ultimately, under pressure from all parties, the government registered the cases.
In October 2005, cases were registered against him by the CBI regarding killings in the areas under the Delhi Cantonment police station and the Sultanpuri police station. Two months later, in December 2005, the police filed a closure report in the court regarding the Delhi Cantonment case. The court did not accept this closure report as the investigation already stood transferred to the CBI in October 2005. The Delhi Police had no jurisdiction to file the closure report in 2005.
In February 2010, CBI filed a chargesheet against Mr. Kumar in the cases. In 2012, after concluding the evidence final arguments were addressed. The special public prosecutor argued that the CBI investigation showed that the police had removed the statement of Jagdish Kaur, (the main witness) dated November 3, 1984 from the record and has further placed on record fabricated statements which are not made by the witness.
On April 30, 2013, the trial court acquitted Mr. Kumar and convicted five other accused. On the basis of the same evidence, the trial court believed the testimony of the witnesses and convicted five accused; however, it did not believe the testimony of same witnesses regarding Mr. Sajjan Kumar. The trial court though agreed with the arguments of the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) that the police had been a party to those killings and in the subsequent cover-up, but while dealing with the case of Mr. Kumar it did not consider the arguments of the SPP that the statement of Jagdish Kaur, dated 3.11.1984, was removed from the record and that the Delhi Police has conducted perfunctory investigation to shield the accused, said the statement.