New Delhi(IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived back in New Delhi on Tuesday night after…
NEW DELHI:Ahead of the Punjab assembly elections early next year, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the central government in 2015 has decided to reopen 75 cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the capital.
The decision comes in the wake of a letter submitted by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 6. In his letter to the PM, Kejriwal had termed the investigation an “eyewash” and urged the Centre to look into the matter.
“The SIT has failed to reopen even a single case. I urge you to either get your SIT to do something or kindly wind up this SIT and allow the Delhi government to set up an SIT for a proper investigation and get justice for the victims,” Kejriwal wrote.
The cases to be reopened include the ones against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who was given a clean chit on his role during the riots, along with Sajjan Kumar and late HKL Bhagat.
A total of 3,325 people were killed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states in the riots after the prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Delhi alone accounted for 2,733 deaths.
The riots are considered to be one of the most violent cases of communal violence after Partition in 1947. The Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its 2011 World Report, had stated: “The government has yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs that followed the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Delivery of justice for mass violence against Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-93 and in Gujarat in 2002 has been slow.”
The GP Mathur committee, set up by Modi in 2014, had recommended the Centre to look into the various Sikh grievances in its January 2015 report.
In February 2015, the Centre constituted a three-member SIT chaired by Pramod Asthana, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1986 batch. District and Sessions court judge Rakesh Kumar and additional deputy commissioner of police Kumar Gyanesh were the other members. The SIT was ordered to submit its recommendations within six months – a deadline that has overshot by almost a year now.
In May 2016, the Centre approved increased compensation to 1,020 families, hit by the riots, who migrated to Punjab from different parts of the country. Punjab has been asked to reopen the cases for verification that will allow families to come forward and claim the enhanced compensation of Rs 2 lakh.
Delhi had 237 anti-Sikh riot cases that were closed because of non-availability of victims or lack of evidence. After reviewing their documents, it has been decided to re-examine about 75 cases so far.
Since the Modi government came to power, different Sikh groups have demanded reopening of cases. It has been 32 years since the riots and 10 commissions and committees have been formed. It was a long-standing demand of the Sikh community that an SIT be set up.
The new development may be seen as a bid for one-upmanship between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ahead of the Punjab elections in 2017.