NEW DELHI: Three of the five persons who were convicted in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case last week, were given life sentence by the court in Delhi on Thursday.
District and sessions judge JR Aryan sentenced Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal to life imprisonment for their role in the riots and jailed Mahender Yadav, an ex-councillor, and Kishan Khokkar, an ex-MLA, for three years for abetting rioting.
The case pertains to the killing of five members of a family – Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh in the Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment by a mob after the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
It is the same case in which Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was acquitted by the court by giving him the “benefit of the doubt.”
But Kumar’s acquittal has fuelled protests by the Sikhs, backed by various political parties, in Delhi.
On Wednesday, leaders of various parties met President Pranab Mukherjee to demand the appointment of a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the riots. They wanted the CBI to challenge the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar.
In a memo to the president, leaders of the BJP, the Akali Dal, the Shiv Sena, the JD-U, the Samajwadi Party, the TDP, the JMM, the BJD and the INLD sought an impartial investigation into the `Sikh genocide.’
BJP leaders L K Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj joined Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal. to seek the president’s intervention to direct the government to order an SIT probe into the riots.
Others who joined the delegation were Maneka Gandhi (BJP), D. Mehtab (BJD), Ananth Geete and Bhawna Gawli (Shiv Sena), Shailender Kumar and Neeraj Shekhar (SP), Sanjeet Kumar (JMM), Namo Nageshwar rao (TDP), Chaudhury Ranveer (INLD), Vishwamohan Kumar, Kaushlendra Kumar and V. Mahato (JD-U). Also present were all Akali and BJP MPs from Punjab, Punjab ministers and the MLAs of the two parties.
In their memo, the leaders demanded that the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar must be challenged immediately and the expeditious disposal of the case within three months. They also wanted challan against Jagdish Tytler also filed and the probe expedited.
After meeting the president, Sukhbir Badal said, “We requested the President that today the whole nation is looking at him, because we feel the present government will not give justice. Since 29 years when this murder of thousands of people took place in Delhi. Innocents were murdered, children were murdered, women were murdered, old people were murdered, (but) not a single person has been put behind bars.’’
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking a SIT probe into the riots.
The chief minister said, “We want that a Special Investigation Team be formed and it should probe the cases under the supervision of the Supreme Court. There are so many cases on which no action has been taken like the Nangloi case which has been pending for 25 years.’’
As to the decision of the CBI to appeal the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar, the chief minister said, “They have said that the CBI would appeal in the High Court on the issue. We demand that government counsel should not be appointed for it and they should be outsiders so that justice can be done,.’’
The Punjab chief minister said cases against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler should also be expedited.
In a hectic day, a five-member delegation of Delhi Akali Dal leaders also met Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna to seek justice for the riot victims.
Seeking the death penalty for Sajjan Kumar, the Akali leaders threatened to intensify their agitation if their demands were not met within two days.
After the meeting the Lt-Governor, Delhi Akali Dal leader Omkar Singh Thapar said, “We asked him to accept our demands, which are death penalty to Kumar and a probe into the 1984 riots by the Supreme Court monitored special investigative team, to which, LG assured us that he was speaking to higher ups and soon arrive at a solution and asked us to stop the protests.
“We have assured him that we would keep protests — like one that happened at Vijay Chowk, Rajpath or outside Sonia Gandhi’s house yesterday — on hold for two days.
“But if it (assurances by the government) is an eyewash then Akali Dal would be helpless to take the agitation ahead.’’