THE SPECIAL Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Uttar Pradesh government to examine and probe anti-Sikh riot cases lodged in Kanpur after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, have to handle 1,254 cases including 1,101 to be investigated again as these were all closed on various grounds. All the cases to be handed over to the SIT were registered at different police stations of Kanpur district during the riots.
On February 5, the state government ordered to set-up a four member SIT headed by former UP DGP Atul to examine the cases filed during 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The Kanpur police have been collecting the case documents and the status of each cases to be sent to the government.
“The state government, taking a suo motu decision after taking cognizance of requests made in a petition related to the Sikh riots filed in the Supreme Court, decided to form SIT in the riot cases. In the petition pending in the Supreme Court, petitioner had requested for examination and investigation of cases by an SIT,” said principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar.
The petition – Manjit Singh and others vs Government of India – was filed in 2017 in the Supreme Court. Former DGP Atul is chairman of the SIT while district judge (retired) Subhash Chandra Agarwal and additional DG, prosecution (retired) Yogeshwar Krishna Srivastava are its members and a serving SSP or SP will also be there in the team as member-secretary. The tenure of the SIT has been fixed at six months.
As per government directives, the newly formed SIT would be examining cases in which closure reports were filed, those in which accused were acquitted and also the cases pending for investigation. If found appropriate, the SIT will investigate the cases under provisions of section 173 (8) of the CrPC.
In cases where the accused were acquitted, if it is found during examination that no writ/ appeal was filed in such cases while it was required as per merit, the SIT is supposed to recommend to the legal authorities concerned to file a writ/appeal in a higher court.
The SIT will be provided police inspectors, sub-inspectors, other employees and prosecuting officers for assistance in the examination and investigation.
When contacted, SIT chairman Atul said, “I have so far not received the government order in this regard. After receiving the order, it will be clear what job SIT has been assigned. We will certainly ask for human resources to complete the assignment.”
Principal Secretary (Home), Arvind Kumar, said, “The four SIT members have been informed telephonically about the order.” Additional DG, Prosecution (retired) Yogeshwar Krishna Srivastava, the SIT member, said, “We have to only examine the cases registered in Kanpur during 1984 riots.”
Additional Superintendent of Police, Rural area (Kanpur), Pradyumna Singh, informed, “as per records available, a total of 1,254 FIRs were lodged in connection with 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Kanpur. These cases were registered at 29 different police stations. Of the 1,254 cases, closure reports have been filed in 1,101 cases. Police had filed chargesheet in 153 other cases.”
He added, “We are still collecting details about how many deaths occurred during riots and also present status of the cases pending in court.”
Kanpur resident Harmohinder Kaur, 70, is hopeful that the killers of her husband Bhagat Singh and brother-in-law Harbansh Singh will be brought to justice by SIT.
“I am waiting for the SIT to investigate the murders of my husband and brother-in-law because Kanpur police had failed to trace any assailant then, said Kaur, who retired as a lecturer from Guru Nanak Degree College in Kanpur. Kaur now lives in Rambagh locality in Kanpur with her only son, Rana Ranvir Singh.
Giving details of the case, Kaur said she was staying with her family in Sharda Nagar area of Kanpur at the time of the riots. “A day after the death of Indira Gandhi, a mob of over armed miscreants barged in our house. My husband Bhagat Singh (then 35) and Harbansh Singh (then 34) were standing outside the house. The mob caught and hit them with sticks and sharp-edged weapons. Later, they escaped,” said Kaur.
“We took both of them to hospital. Since curfew was clamped in the city, no senior doctors were present. Junior doctors asked to arrange for blood, but we could not do so due to the situation. Later, my husband and brother-in-law died during treatment,” added Kaur.
Bhagat Singh used to run an air-conditioner repair shop at Badariya Bagh and Harbansh Singh help him in the business. A case was filed against unidentified persons at Kalyanpur police station but police failed to trace any accused and closure report was filed, added Kaur.
After the incident, I started working at Guru Nanak Degree College on contractual basis for survival and two years later I was made a permanent employee. “Fearing that I may lose my son, I send him to a relative’s house in Punjab where he studied. Rana Ranvir Singh returned to Kanpur after a decade. He completed his intermediate and runs an AC repair shop,” she added.