Thursday, 9 April 2009

Over 3000 Murders and Not a Single Murderer Has Been Punished

On 31 October 1984, two of Indira Gandhi’s body guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh assassinated her using their service weapons as Gandhi was walking through the gardens of her official residence, on her way to be interviewed for an Irish television documentary. The assassination was in retaliation for the storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian army, an event which horrified India’s Sikh community and even caused many Sikh soldiers to desert en masse. A mini-pogrom was carried out against the Sikh community following Gandhi’s assassination and over 3,000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi alone. Rajiv Gandhi who took over from Indira Gandhi unashamedly declared that ‘when a big tree falls, the ground shakes!’

Anecdotal evidence, and there is a lot of it, says that the killings in Delhi were co-ordinated by local Congress leaders who arranged for bus-loads of thugs to be sent to Sikh localities to carry out the killings. Two rumours made the rounds – that train-loads of Hindu dead bodies had arrived from Punjab and that Sikhs had poisoned drinking water in Delhi. Of the various local Congress leaders allegedly involved in the pogrom, three stand out, namely Messrs Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler.

A one-man commission headed by Justice G T Nanavati Commission indicted Sajjan Kumar, and Jagdish Tytler in 2005. Justice Nanavati also said that the government was at fault for not having called in the army in good time. At that time, Jagdish Tytler was in the Union Cabinet and had to resign. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated the Congress promise that those responsible for the killings would be punished. Following the indictment, a CBI inquiry was instituted against Tytler. In 2007, the CBI applied to a trial court for closing the case against Tytler, citing the lack of evidence against him. Thankfully the trial court did not agree. Instead, it directed the CBI to carry out further investigations. On 28 March 2009, the CBI submitted its final report to the trial court. When the CBI’s report was taken up by the court on 2 April 2009, just a day after All Fools Day, it was revealed that the CBI has found no evidence against Tytler. The matter is now pending in the Karkardooma court where it has been posted for further hearings on 28 April 2009. Since the CBI has given a clean chit to Tytler, it is very unlikely that the Karkardooma court will pass a verdict against him.

It is possible that Tytler is innocent and the CBI might be right in letting him off the hook. After all, India has a legal system that is geared to ensure that the innocent are never punished even if the guilty get off scot-free. What is unacceptable is that despite over 3000 deaths in Delhi alone, not a single person has been punished. This year is the 25th anniversary of the anti-Sikh pogrom and the chances of the killers being brought to book look very slim. I wonder how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh carries on with this disgusting record on his conscience.

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