Congress Government and Police showed no interest in nailing 1984 rioters : Justice Dhingra’s Panel report

The then Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had made a statement about the riots – ‘When a big tree falls, the earth shakes’. From this, it was clear that the ‘earthquake’ was sponsored by Congress. In this case, criminal cases were registered against Congress leaders – Kamal Nath, Jagdish Tytler, etc.; however, they have still not been punished !

If reports of riots in 1984 are received after 36 years, when will the concerned people be prosecuted and when will action be taken against them ? What efforts will be made by the Government to correct this flaw in the governance ?

New Delhi – The Supreme Court-appointed Justice SN Dhingra Committee has slammed the then Union Government and Delhi Police for showing utter lack of interest in booking 1984 anti-Sikh rioters for murder, arson and violence and for trying to hush up the criminal cases.

“Despite a large number of victims approaching various agencies (including Justice Ranganath Misra Commission) soon after the riots and for a few years thereafter, still a large number of crimes of murders, rioting, looting, arson remained unpunished and untraced. The basic reason for these crimes go unpunished and culprits getting scot-free was lack of interest shown by the Police and the Government in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing the culprits”, the Justice Dhingra Committee’s report said in a scathing indictment of the Congress Government led by the late Rajiv Gandhi.

The Committee castigated the manner in which Justice Ranganath Misra Commission cursorily handled the hundreds of affidavits filed by victims alleging murder, rioting, violence and arson against the Sikh community members in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984.

“In FIR 268 of 1984 of Sultanpuri Police stations, the DCP sent 337 complaints received by him soon after the riots, about incidents of burning, looting, injuries, murders, etc. to Sultanpuri Police station for action. Instead of recording a separate FIR in respect of each of the incident, an omnibus FIR was recorded in respect of all 337 incidents reported to the DCP by victims and thereafter all other complaints of killing and rioting were also added to the same FIR, with a result that this FIR had 498 incidents of rioting, arson, looting. burning, causing injuries and murders. The investigation was handed over to a single Police officer. How can a single officer investigate all cases alone ?” asks the report.

On the shoddy manner in which trial courts acquitted the accused on the hyper-technical ground of delay, the Justice Dhingra committee told the SC, “Despite this, in almost all cases, the trial judges, to whom cases were sent for trial after investigation, rejected the testimonies of witnesses on the ground of delay in filing of FIRs, delay in recording of statement of witnesses and similar other grounds.

The Committee also found that then SHO of Kalyanpuri Police station, Survir Singh Tyagi, was in conspiracy with the rioters. “Tyagi deliberately disarmed local Sikhs of their licensed arms so that the rioters could make them victims and cause loss of life and property. He was suspended from service but was later reinstated and promoted as ACP. The committee is of the view that his case should be referred to riot cell of Delhi Police for action”, it said.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta on 15th January told a Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant that the Union Government accepted the recommendations of the Justice Dhingra committee and would take action as per the suggestions.

If reports of riots in 1984 are received after 36 years, when will the concerned people be prosecuted and when will action be taken against them ?