Millennium Post

1st death sentence in '84 Sikh riots case, life term for one

NEW DELHI: One of the two attackers convicted of killing two men during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 has been sentenced to death by a Delhi court. The other convict will spend life in prison, the court said.

Naresh Sherawat, 68, and 55-year-old Yashpal Singh were convicted of killing the two men in south Delhi's Mahipalpur. They have also been fined Rs. 35 lakh each.

Yashpal Singh's sentence makes it the first death punishment in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Sherawat, the second person to get life imprisonment in 34 years, worked at the Mahipalpur post office and Yashpal Singh was a transporter.

The verdict has given "Sikhs a ray of hope", said Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also welcomed the first conviction by a Delhi court in the 1984 riots case. "Justice has finally been meted out to the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. Hope the others involved in the attacks are also soon brought to book for their horrendous and inhuman acts," Captain Singh tweeted.

On November 1, 1984, Hardev Singh and two others were at their grocery shops in Mahipalpur when a mob of 800-1,000 armed with iron rods, hockey sticks, stones, kerosene oil attacked them and set their shops on fire.

They rushed to their friend Surjeet Singh's home and locked themselves inside. Avtar Singh later joined them. The mob followed them to the house, stabbed Hardev and threw all them from the balcony. The injured were shifted to Safdarjung Hospital where Avatar Singh and Hardev Singh died.

The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for lack of evidence.

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, formed in 2015, probed the 60 cases it had reopened out of the total 293 and succeeded in getting a conviction in the first case last week.

It has filed "untraced report" in 52 cases, and of the eight cases being investigated, charge-sheets have been filed in five while the rest, in which senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar is an accused, are pending investigation.

Both the men were arrested after the court held them guilty of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt.

The official records say that over 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguard. The violence across the country, but mostly in Delhi, saw women being raped and people dragged out of their homes to be burnt alive.

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