1984 anti-Sikh riots accused had political cover: HC

Playing with fire: Vehicles set on fire in a Sikh-inhabited area in Delhi in November 1984.   | Photo Credit: N. Srinivasan

The Delhi High Court on Monday observed that a majority of the perpetrators of the horrific mass crimes in the anti-Sikh riots enjoyed “political patronage” and escaped prosecution and punishment for over three decades.

A Bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel said bringing such criminals to justice posed a serious challenge to the legal system and decades passed before they could be made answerable.

It, however, remarked that such challenges were not limited to the anti-Sikh riots cases. “There has been a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008, in Muzaffarnagar in U.P. in 2013 to name a few,” the Bench said.

“Common to these mass crimes were the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by the dominant political actors being facilitated by the law enforcement agencies,” the court observed.

It took as many as 10 committees and commissions for the investigation into the role of some of the accused in the anti-Sikh riots to be entrusted in 2005 to the CBI, 21 years after the incidents.

“This calls for strengthening the legal system. Neither ‘crimes against humanity’ nor ‘genocide’ is part of our domestic law of crime. This loophole needs to be addressed urgently,” the Bench said.

Witnesses anguished

“What was our crime? My father fought for Independence, my husband was in the Army. Neither my father’s sacrifice nor my husband’s service to the nation came to our rescue,” said Jagdish Kaur, who lost five family members in the riots, responding to the verdict.

“They burned my family to death. We want death sentence for him,” Kaur who lost her husband, a son and three cousins, told the media.

Another witness in the case, Nirpreet Kaur, who saw her father burned alive by the raging mobs, said she was “satisfied that the main accused are going to jail including those who took away my father on pretext of a compromise... who hit my father with iron rod, who supplied the kerosene, and Sajjan Kumar who influenced the mob there.”

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 12:50:02 AM |

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