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Millennium Post

1984, a sore wound that needs closure

It’s high time that a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe is conducted into the gruesome and despicably shameful episode that is the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. As Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has conveyed and the principal opposition BJP has voiced, need for an impartial and unbiased investigation into the violence that killed over 3,000 Sikhs in the wake of prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her own bodyguards has been felt in several quarters of the public and political spheres. Unfortunately, the Congress party and its governments have so far scuttled the probe, causing culprits to go scot-free and allowing hardly any worthwhile convictions in the brutalities. While the Congress top brass, particularly the Gandhi family, remains in denial, actively fudging evidence and pushing witnesses to turn hostile, the mass massacre remains an elephant in the room of the histories of both India’s oldest political party and the multicultural nation itself. In fact, it is Rahul Gandhi’s utterly callous and pathetic quip on 1984, dismissing the parallel with 2002 and saying that the Rajiv Gandhi government tried to stop the riots while the Narendra Modi regime instigated and colluded with the murderers, that has flared the nerves of memory once again, forcing AAP and BJP to demand a fresh probe. That this demand found a place in AAP’s pre-poll manifesto and it is a good sign that the CM has actually met the L-G Najeeb Jung to open a new investigation. Since much more needs to be done besides reopening wrongly closed cases, booking eminent ministers in the Congress camp who had been seen inciting mob violence as well as getting the witnesses to testify as soon as possible on this three-decade-old communal catastrophe, it is likely that the Congress-led UPA government wouldn’t want to bring skeletons out of its stinking closet.

That 1984 riots were a state-sponsored genocide is an open secret that no one wants to put an official stamp on, thanks to the lack of sufficient penal and judicial verdicts. With a death toll touching 3,000 and displacement figures at 20,000 leaving the city, this chapter oozes blood since no soothing balm has been applied on its sore wounds. The Ved Marwah Commission was halted abruptly as the members of Delhi police moved high court to contest the allegations. Later, Justice Rangnath Misra commission, which succeeded Marwah, acted as an arm of the state government and was criticised for keeping crucial and indicting information from the probe. Since 1985, a number of other toothless bodies were formed as a part of an elaborate charade to keep the façade of holding an investigation on, none of which yielded anything really fruitful, other than going after Sajjan Kumar. It was only in 2004 under Justice G T Nanavati that the probing commission had the gumption to come out and say that Congress leaders and workers had been seen inciting and helping the mob in attacking and killing Sikhs. However, in 2007 the CBI closed cases against a number of Congress leaders, including Jagdish Tytler, much to the chagrin of the Sikh community. Hence, bringing up this longstanding issue is crucial not for establishing AAP’s credential for clean and transparent politics, but is also likely to bridge the gap in India’s pernicious history of human rights violation. Moreover, a court-monitored probe into 1984 would not only expose the Congress as a band of lying coots, but also show how the episode has been forever played down in comparison to 2002 Gujarat pogrom.
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