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Two days before deposing,key ’84 riots witness passes away

Anti-Sikh riots victim Gurcharan Singh,a key witness in the case against former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar,passed away in Balongi village,close to Mohali,on Monday evening.

Written by Express News Service | Mohali | Published: February 18, 2009 3:01 am

Gurcharan Singh was a prime witness in the case against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar

Anti-Sikh riots victim Gurcharan Singh,a key witness in the case against former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar,passed away in Balongi village,close to Mohali,on Monday evening. The 41-year-old Singh,who was bed-ridden for the past 24 years,was cremated in Mohali on Tuesday afternoon.

Singh was re-scheduled to appear as a witness in the case before a Delhi court on February 19.

A large number of people from different walks of life attended the last rites and criticised the state government for not providing justice or relief to Singh during his lifetime.

Singh,17 years old at the time of the riots,had suffered grievous burn injuries when a mob,allegedly led by Sajjan Kumar,threw him into a burning vehicle in Uttam Nagar Colony during the anti-Sikh riots on November 1,1984,that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Delhi.

The mob also set his house and four shops on fire,in which his maternal uncle Santokh Singh perished.

Suffering almost 70 per cent burns,Singh could not be admitted in any hospital in the Capital,but somehow survived after treatment at an ESI dispensary.

He was then taken to his elder brother Manjeet Singh’s residence in Balongi,where he remained bedridden throughout.

Singh also went through a lot of struggle to claim the monetary compensation of Rs 2 lakh that was awarded to anti-Sikh riot victims.

It was only after the All India Sikh Students’ Federation (AISSF) took up his case that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) agreed to record his statement with regard to the case against Sajjan Kumar. He subsequently deposed before a Delhi court in 2008.

AISSF president Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad,flanked by several other Sikh leaders and anti-Sikh riots victims,expressed disappointment over the alleged indifference on the part of successive governments at the Centre and the state in providing justice to Singh in his lifetime.

“For the past few days,he had been saying he would soon die without getting justice,” recalled elder brother Manjeet Singh.

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