In the quest to provide justice to the Sikh community who suffered during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Kanpur, the Uttar Pradesh government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the circumstances that led to riots that happened after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
According to media reports, a four-membered SIT headed by retired UP Director General of Police Atul has been constituted and asked to submit its report within six months. Other members of the SIT include retired District Judge Subhash Chandra Agarwal and retired Additional Director Yogeshwar Krishna Srivastava.
Yogi government’s decision comes on the heels of first major conviction in the case. Earlier, after a long delay of 34 years, the Sikh community finally got some relief and justice when the Delhi High Court sentenced Sajjan Kumar, a Congress leader and accused in the case, to jail for his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Delhi High Court awarded life imprisonment to the Congress leader. It reversed the judgment of the trial court which acquitted him, earlier. Delhi HC charged him of offences of murder, promoting enmity between groups and defiling public property. A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel had on October 29 last year, concluded hearing arguments on the appeals filed by the CBI, anti-Sikh riots victims and the convicts, and reversed the judgment. The CBI in its appeal has maintained that the trial court “erred in acquitting Sajjan Kumar as it was he who had instigated the mob during the riots”. The arrest of Sajjan Kumar was a direct result of the SIT the NDA government had formed after coming to power.
Earlier in November last year, 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 lakhs each by the court.
Prior to this, in 2013 the trial court had convicted five others, former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and two others in the case relating to brutal killing of five Sikh members of a family in Raj Nagar of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984 after the assassination of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh bodyguards. The five convicts have filed appeals against their conviction and sentencing.
According to reports, at least 125 people were killed in 1984 riots in Kanpur following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. In August 2017, the apex court had issued a notice to the state government to form an SIT, on a petition seeking an SIT probe of the riots.
The recent decision of the Delhi High Court and continuous effort of Central Government brings hope to the Sikh families as finally the perpetrators of the most heinous and inhumane crimes during the 1984 riots are getting punished. The BJP government has been committed to providing justice to the Sikh community who suffered during the 1984 riots and the Yogi government’s move is a step in this regard.