The order of a Delhi sessions court, setting aside a magistrate’s acceptance of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report giving a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler reopens once again the possibility of the punishment of some of those responsible for the anti-Sikh pogroms in Delhi in 1984 that killed over 3,000 people in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Justice for the victims of the riots has been elusive and their search for it futile till now in the absence of the cooperation of the police authorities in-charge of the investigations, at the instance of a political party, the Congress. The recent court order exposes how dubious has been the role of the CBI in attempting a cover-up the investigation and protecting Tytler. Investigations have been deliberately shoddy and not just in his case. Tytler is an example of a political leader implicated in the riots who has not only escaped all attempts to bring him to book but has instead found favour with his political party, the Congress, winning a Lok Sabha seat shortly after the massacres and riding high as a minister. It has, indeed been extremely difficult to corner leaders like him with the investigation into their role having hardly moved at all in the presence of powerful forces of support to him and the others responsible for the outrage.
In the absence of any true investigative effort, it took the Nanavati Commission’s 2004 report, which went against Tytler and recommended that he be put on trial, to put the spotlight back on him. In spite of this, with the Congress-led UPA back in power around this time, the CBI once again found itself under pressure. To its utter shame, it has hardly done any work, having not recorded the statements of key witnesses which would have pinned the Congress leader, alleging that these were unreliable. It filed a closure report as early as 2007 and, when the courts did not agree, if filed another one in 2009. It is extremely unfortunate that the matter is still bogged down at an investigative stage and in the lower courts despite more than three decades having passed since the outrageous events. However, with the sessions court having reopened the matter, the CBI will have to freshly probe the matter, which opens up the possibility of justice being finally done. It is important for the guilty to be brought to book in cases of riots such as these which begin to take on the proportions of genocide, so that politicians are deterred from participating in them or encouraging them in any way.