Sikhs demanding justice in the anti-Sikh riots, 1984
This is the first time a convict has been handed the death sentence in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots after the cases were reopened by the SIT in 2015
The Delhi Patiala House Court on November 20 pronounced death sentence for the convict Yashpal Singh and announced life imprisonment for another convict Naresh Sherawat in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. The two were convicted on November 15 for killing two young Sikhs in Delhi’s Mahipalpur area after the assassination of erstwhile Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This is the first sentencing in the case after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) took over the probe in 2015. The SIT was formed by Narendra Modi Govt, under Ministry of Home Affairs in 2015.
From calling witnesses from Italy to testify in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case to publishing public notices, the Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed in 2015, took extensive measures to probe the 60 cases it had reopened out of the total 293 and succeeded in getting the conviction in the first case.
What changed after SIT was formed?
Of the 650 cases registered in connection with anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these 267 cases, five were later taken up by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The SIT also scrutinised the records of 18 cancelled cases. The SIT found 60 cases appropriate for further investigation. It filed ‘untraced report’ in 52 cases in the last one-and-a-half years. Out of the eight cases being investigated, charge sheets have been filed in five and three, in which senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar is an accused, are pending investigation.
On November 1, 1984, Hardev Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Sangat Singh were present at their grocery shops in Mahipalpur when a violent mob of 800-1,000 people armed with deadly weapons like iron rods, lathis, hockey sticks, stones, kerosene oil, came towards their shops.
They closed their shops and rushed to the rented accommodation of one Surjeet Singh located on the first floor of a house in the area. After some time, they were joined by Avtar Singh, who also took shelter with them. They locked themselves inside the room.
After burning the shops, the mob came to Surjeet’s room and brutally assaulted everyone. They stabbed Hardev and Sangat and threw all the men from the balcony.
A case was registered at Vasant Kunj police station in 1993 on the recommendation of Justice J D Jain and D K Aggarwal committee based on the affidavit filed by Santokh Singh on September 9, 1985, before Justice Rangnath Misra Commission and the investigation was conducted by the Anti-Riot Cell of the Delhi Police.
During the investigation, the Delhi Police could not gather evidence to prosecute any accused and after investigation, an untraced (closure) report was filed which was accepted by the court on February 9, 1994.
Earlier, the incident was investigated in 1984 and a charge sheet was filed in 1985 against one Jai Pal Singh but he was acquitted on December 20, 1986.
A special investigation team was formed by an order of the Ministry Of Home Affairs for investigating/re-investigating the ‘appropriately serious cases’ of 1984 Sikh riots, which had since been closed.
The SIT was contacted by Sangat Singh, one of the victims, after they published public notices in various papers in Delhi and Punjab and subsequently, they zeroed down on Naresh Sherawat and Yashpal Singh.