1984 anti-Sikh riots convict gets death sentence, another gets life term

The murder case was lodged in 1993 based on a complaint filed by Santokh Singh, brother of Hardev Singh. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 citing lack of evidence but a Special Investigation Team reopened the case.

Anti Sikh Riots

New Delhi: The Delhi Patiala House Court sentenced one of two convicts Yashpal Singh to death for his role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The other convict, Naresh Sherawat was given the life sentence. Both were convicted on November 15 for killing two young Sikhs in Delhi’s Mahipalpur area after the assassination of erstwhile Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
This is the first death sentence awarded in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Both convicts have also been fined with Rs. 35 lakh each.
Naresh Sherawat and Yashpal Singh were held guilty of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh.
The murder case was lodged in 1993 based on a complaint filed by Santokh Singh, brother of Hardev Singh. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 citing lack of evidence but a Special Investigation Team reopened the case.
As per a report, the SIT said in a statement that it was a “brutal murder of two innocent young persons aged around 25 each. It was a planned murder since the accused were carrying kerosene oil, sticks etc.”
Singh and Sherawat “took out the victims, who were hiding inside a room, injured them with dangerous weapons with the intention to kill and threw them down from the first floor”, causing their deaths, the judge said while delivering the punishment.
“An eyewitness and relative of the two victims said that the mob below then poured petrol and some powder in their mouths which caught fire. “Tyres were hung around their necks and burnt. As they struggled, the attackers laughed and said ‘they’re like dancing monkeys’,” remembered the relative,” reported NDTV.
The two accused were held guilty under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder, attempt to murder and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
“The Vasant Kunj police had lodged an FIR on a handwritten affidavit submitted before the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission of Inquiry in 1985 on the recommendation of Justice J.D. Jain and D.K. Aggarwal committee. The complainant, Santokh Singh, was an assistant granthi at Gurdwara Sadar Bazar in Delhi Cantonment at that time. He had said in his complaint that a mob on November 1, 1984, attacked them, killed his brother Avtar Singh (24) and his customer Hardev Singh (26), and looted their shops in the presence of police officers,” The Hindu reported.
“When the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission was constituted, a “first informant”, Santokh Singh, filed an affidavit stating that 500 people looted shops in Mahipalpur in 1984. Based on his affidavit, another FIR was registered in 1993, and an ACP-rank officer filed an “untrace report” in court. The Metropolitan Magistrate, however, had said, “Police were at liberty to file challan as and when accused persons were arrested,” reported India Express.
“In 2017, the chargesheet in the case was filed by a Special Investigation Team, constituted in 2015 to re-investigate “serious criminal cases” filed in Delhi after the anti-Sikh riots, which had been closed,” the report said.
“During arguments in this case, the defence counsel had said that registration of two FIRs for the same incident was illegal. The court said: “This case involves extraordinary circumstances justifying the registration of the second FIR.” The defence had also pointed out that the witnesses were examined after 33 years and none of the accused persons were named correctly by them. The court, however, said that this was “immaterial” and recounted one instance involving the witness Sangat Singh, whose brother Hardev Singh was murdered,” the report added.
“Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey held Sherawat and Singh guilty of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh during the riots, and said that “victims of mass genocide” cannot be left in “the lurch,” the report said.
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots left nearly 3,000 people dead, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The 1984 carnage erupted just hours after she was killed by her Sikh bodyguards.
The violence, which occurred mostly in the capital New Delhi, lasted three days when Sikhs were raped, murdered and burned alive, while their homes and businesses were torched.
Many believe that justice has been served although it took 34 years to reach this juncture. Relatives of the victims hoped that next up would be two former Congress ministers, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing and Member of Parliament from Bathinda spoke in favour of BJP for speeding up the process and thanked PM Modi for setting up the SIT in 2015.
“We will not rest till the last murderer is brought to justice,” she added.
Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh also tweeted in the favour of the sentence.
Sikhs make up 2 per cent of India’s 1.25 billion population.



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