A sting operation carried out by a news portal on Tuesday claimed that the government had failed to take action to stop the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and senior police officers “colluded” with the then government to teach Sikhs a “lesson”.
An investigation conducted by Cobrapost – Chapter 84 – claimed to have confessions of officers of Delhi Police most of whom have admitted in the sting to their “failure” as a force to take action against the culprits.
Cobrapost recorded the conversations of Shoorveer Singh Tyagi, then Station House Officer (SHO) Kalyanpuri, Rohtas Singh, SHO Delhi Cantonment, S N Bhaskar SHO Krishna Nagar, O P Yadav, SHO Srinivaspuri, and Jaipal Singh SHO Mehrauli.
The news portal claimed that S.C. Tandon – the then chief of police – conveniently parried all questions while Gautam Kaul, then Additional Commissioner of Police straightaway rejected the idea that he had any first-hand knowledge of rioting.
The news portal claimed that confessions of these officials revealed that while warnings about the simmering communal sentiments against Sikhs went unheard by senior officers, only two per cent of the messages of news of arson and rioting which bombarded the police control rooms, were recorded.
It also claimed that police logbooks were “conveniently” changed to eliminate evidence of inaction on the part of senior officers while some other officers did not act for fear of punishment being transferred.
According to the confessions of these officers, Cobrapost claimed, some police officers dumped bodies of victims somewhere else to minimise riot-related crimes and messages were broadcast directing police to not take action against rioters who were shouting slogans of “Indira Gandhi zindabad”.
“The government of the day did not allow the police to act while creating an impression that the police were not performing their duty,” the news portal alleged.
“While most of them candidly admitting to their failure as a force, some of them confessed that the top brass of the police force colluded with the government of the day to teach Sikhs a lesson,” the newsportal said in its statement.
The sting was carried out over one year with vast majority of the shoots in the last two months. “The idea behind it was to get a snapshot of the 1984 traumatic event which followed after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,” it said.
“So we decided to go and hear from the policemen under whose watch the incidents of rioting, arson, murder happened,” said Anirudh Behl, Cobrapost editor.
The news portal claimed that Amrik Singh Bhullar, who was then the Patel Nagar SHO, had also named some local leaders in his affidavit, accusing them of instigating and even leading the frenzied mobs.
Behl said that Kalyanpuri was the place where more than 500-600 Sikhs were massacred. The editor further claimed that the police did not allow the victims of rioting to lodge FIRs or when they filed FIRs, they clubbed many cases of murder and arson that took in disparate places in one FIR.
“Senior police officers did not allow their subordinates to open fire on rioters while even the fire brigade refused to move to areas where cases of arson had been reported by police,” he alleged.
At least three officers interviewed by Cobrapost were unanimous in condemning the dubious role of former CP S C Tandon in not providing leadership to the force and castigated the then police chief without mincing words.
Criticising Tandon for “acting under the influence” of the government, SHO Tyagi said, “Toh jaane anjane mein wo government ke influence mein rahe hain ki unhone mismanage kiya shuru mein aur do din jab asal mein baat jab haath se nikal gayi (So, knowingly or unknowingly, he was under the influence of the government. He mismanaged in the beginning and in the first two days the situation went out of control),” he said.
Similarly, Yadav accuses Tandon of not providing leadership to the force, while Bhaskar says that instead of singling out some station house officers, the police chief’s head should have rolled, the news portal said.