After a long delay and wait of around 34 years, the Sikhs finally seem to be getting justice in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. A Delhi Court pronounced death sentence to one of the convicts, Yashpal Singh while another convict, Naresh Singh was sentenced to life imprisonment. Both the convicts were also fined Rs. 35 lakh each by the Court. They had been convicted on November 14. The conviction of Yashpal Singh is the first capital punishment in connection with the anti-Sikh riots. This brings hope to the Sikh families as finally the perpetrators of the most heinous and inhumane crimes during the 1984 riots will finally be brought to justice. The verdict was pronounced in a makeshift Court in the premises of Tihar Jail due to some security concerns.
In 1984, during the anti-Sikh riots, two young Sikh men, Hardev Singh aged 24 years and Avtar Singh who was 26 years old were killed by a mob in Mahipalpur village in South Delhi. Thereafter, a case was lodged after a complaint had been filed by Hardev Singh’s brother Santokh Singh. It was the evidence given by an eyewitness that proved crucial in the conviction of Yashpal Singh and Naresh Singh. Apart from being convicted for killing two young Sikh men, the duo was also convicted for several other serious offences including dacoity and attempt to murder for attacking the victims with a common intention and burning their business establishments.
Delhi Police, however, closed the case in 1994 due to the lack of evidence. The case was reopened by the Special Investigation team (SIT) that was formed in 2015 to conduct investigation into the 1984 riots after the Modi government stormed to power in 2014. The convictions in the present case took place on account of the report by the SIT and the evidence found on reopening the case. It is clear that only after the Modi government came into power, something has been done to ensure that the Sikh victims finally get justice.
A three-member Special Investigation Team had been constituted by the home ministry in 2015 after the Modi government came at the helm of affairs. The move came after Justice Mathur Committee had recommended fresh probe into the anti-Sikh riot cases through an SIT. The deadly massacre broke out after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards. The riots which witnessed indescribably brutal, heinous and inhumane crimes resulted in the death of 3,325 Sikhs. The epicentre of the riots was Delhi where 2,733 Sikhs were killed. For decades, the Sikh community had been demanding justice but there were no encouraging signs. Finally, the SIT appointed by the Modi government in 2014 came as a ray of hope for the anti-Sikh riots victim. The Modi government went on to announce an additional compensation of Rs. 5-lakh for the Sikh victims in December 2014.
The SIT initiated reinvestigation into several cases in order to ensure justice for the victims of anti-Sikh riots. In fact, in 2016, the centre had informed the apex court that it will re-investigate 286 cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as it was “determined to render speedy justice to affected families”. This shows how the formation of SIT to probe the riots turned out to be a major development. Now, it seems to be yielding the desired results. The manner in which Modi government acted has very well ensured that the perpetrators of the 1984 massacre will not go scot free.