Once a powerful minister in Narendra Modi government – Maya Kodnani – has been convicted and given 28 years of sentence in one of the Gujarat riot cases. However, most of the politicians named in the FIRs in 1984 anti-Sikh riots, barring Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, have got clean chits.
Except the case of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, most of the leaders have been either given clean chit by the investigating agencies or the cases were closed against them after their death. Currently, only Sajjan Kumar is facing trial in two Sikh-riot cases.
Five Sikh riots related cases are pending in the court in which Sajjan Kumar is facing trial in two cases. In the Gujarat riots cases, so far 10 persons have been given death and over 100 life imprisonment for various sections, but in Sikh riots cases, so far only 30 persons have been convicted on murder charges. Official death figures in 1984 riots stand at 2733.
According to investigative agencies, a total of 442 people have been convicted by various courts in 1984 Sikh riots cases. Of these 442 convicted persons, 49 were sentenced for life and three to imprisonment of more than 10 years. Six Delhi Police officials were also punished.
'The Congress Party has no moral right to say anything on Gujarat riots. It has not done anything to give justice to the victims of the Sikh riots. It has protected its leaders accused in the Sikh riots,' says HS Phoolka, lawyer fighting various Sikh riot cases. The leaders whose name had come up were – Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, Late HKL Bhagat and Late Dharam Das Shastri, all then Congress MPs. The case against Tytler was closed after the CBI filed closure report in the case citing lack of evidence. Although the trial court had ordered for the reinvestigation of the case against Tytler, nothing much happened after one of the witnesses refused to come to India fearing for his and his family's security.
Case against Bhagat also got nowhere as he was acquitted for lack of evidence in the trial court. An appeal in the Delhi High Court was closed after his death. Shastri's trial could not be completed as he died before the trial.
During all these 28 years, there have been long investigation by the CBI and 10 fact-finding commissions were constituted by various governments. The last was Justice Nanavati Commission, set up by the NDA government. This last commission had questioned the role of Delhi Police and involvement of Congress leaders for inciting the mob. It had claimed the involvement of Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and HKL Bhagat for instigating the mobs.
Phoolka also questions the investigation and reinvestigation by Delhi Police and CBI in these cases. 'These police officials killed the cases. There should have been action against them but nothing happenned. The Kapoor-Mittal Committee had identified 72 police officials for their role in the Sikh riot and had recommended for action against them, but nothing happened. They all kept getting promotions,' says Phoolka.
CBI was handling the cases of investigation and reinvestigation against certain political personalities in seven cases, in which closure report have been filed in two cases while five cases are at the various stages of trial. Other cases were handled by the Delhi Police. Police could not proceed for trial in 21 cases citing lack of evidence.
Of the 56 cases registered against 225 persons under various sections of IPC, three resulted in conviction, two are pending trials and in 30 cases, accused persons were acquitted. In the rest 21 cases, the police could not proceed for trial citing not enough evidence.
THE CASE AND STATUS:
- Sajjan Kumar – Named in FIRs on grounds of inciting mobs in outer Delhi leading to murder of Sikhs. Case Status – Facing trial in two cases.
- Jagdish Tytler – Named in FIRs for inciting mob at Pul Bangash leading to murder and rioting in that area, Case Status – Closure report has already been filed by CBI after long investigation for lack of evidence.
- Late H K L Bhagat – Accused of inciting violence in east Delhi, Case Status – Police had refused to lodge FIR. He was summoned by the court as an accused. Was later acquitted for lack of evidence. Appeal in Delhi high court closed after his death.
- Late Dharam Das Shastri – Accused of leading mob in Karol Bagh, Case Status – Case registered on the recommendation of the Nanavati Commission but he died before the trial.
- June 1984: During Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to secure the Golden Temple and eliminate any insurgents, as it had been occupied by Sikh separatists who were stockpiling weapons.
- Indira gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards in response to her actions authorising the military operation.
- The 1984 Sikh Massacre was a pogrom directed against Sikhs in northern India in response to the assassination by her Sikh bodyguards.
- Riots erupted on 1 november 1984, and continued in some areas for days, killing some 800 Sikhs.
- Rajiv Gandhi, who was sworn in as the Prime Minister after his mother’s death, when asked about the riots said ‘when a big tree falls, the earth shakes’.
- Mobs swarmed into Sikh neighbourhoods, arbitrarily killing Sikh men or women.
- The Government of India reported 2,700 deaths in the ensuing chaos.
- 20,000 had fled the city, however the PUCL reported ‘at least’ 50,000 displaced persons.