The judgment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which Congress leader Sajjan Kumar is accused of instigating violence against Sikhs was reserved by a Sessions court here on Wednesday after the prosecution and defence completed their final arguments. District Judge J. R. Aryan said he will take up the matter on April 16 for seeking further clarifications, from both parties, if needed.
Appearing for Mr. Kumar, defence counsel I. U. Khan argued that the key witness, Jagdish Kaur, had not named him in her affidavit before the Ranganath Mishra Commission in 1985 and also did not point out the absence of his name in that affidavit to the Nanavati Commission appointed by the NDA Government.
Regarding her claim that she had seen Mr. Kumar addressing a crowd from atop a police jeep in the Delhi Cantonment area, Mr. Khan argued that considering the distance from where she said she saw him, it would not have been possible for her to see him.
The defence counsel also claimed that though an FIR relating to 30 murders in Raj Nagar was filed and 23 complaints were made by relatives, gurdwara committees and other associations, not one of them had named Mr. Kumar.
However, CBI counsel D. P. Singh rebutted this contention saying that it was the CBI case that the Delhi Police had eliminated all traces of any complaints mentioning Mr. Kumar’s name.
Mr. Khan also alleged that Ms. Kaur had not named Jagsher Singh, her relative, as an eyewitness before either the Mishra or Nanavati Commissions, and took his name for the first time before the CBI only in 2006. Jagsher Singh had allegedly seen and heard Mr. Kumar scolding his supporters for not inflicting adequate damage on Sikh properties and urging them to not spare Hindus who sheltered Sikhs. “Whatever Jagsher Singh saw, he would have told Jagdish Kaur. How come, all these years, she never mentioned his name?” Mr. Khan asked.
Defence counsel Anil Sharma, appearing for five other accused, argued that out of 17 prosecution witnesses, only three had named his clients in the case. “Out of 35 prosecution witnesses, CBI had examined 17 and only three of them had named Balwan Khokkar, Kishan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal. Why should we believe those three witnesses and not the 14 witnesses who had not named them,” he said.
Concluding his arguments, Mr. Singh said that the Bureau had conducted an honest investigation and that the prosecution has limited itself to what each of the witnesses had seen at the time of the incident. He emphasised that the CBI witnesses had made an honest recollection of the facts of the case before the court.
Before Mr. Aryan reserved orders, senior advocate H. S. Phoolka, counsel for the riot victims, stood up and said: “After conducting the inquiry, running into over four years, the Nanavati Commission had primarily recommended registration of the cases against two political leaders, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. Against Jagdish Tytler, the CBI has already filed the closure report, and against Sajjan Kumar the present trial is going on. Not just the entire country, the whole world was waiting for justice in the case because 5,000 people were killed and the culprits were yet to be brought to book.”
The defence counsel vociferously objected to Mr. Phoolka’s intervention.