Stating that “victims of mass genocide” cannot be left in “the lurch” and that testimonies of witnesses clearly established murder by the intentional act of unlawful assembly, a special court Wednesday convicted two accused in an 1984 anti-Sikh riots case from Mahipalpur.
Special Judge Ajay Pandey said the accused, Naresh and Yashpal, were part of an unlawful assembly that murdered Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh.
“The common object of the unlawful assembly, among others, was to murder people of the Sikh community, which is clear from the slogans raised by its leaders and the manner in which the members carried out its object. Hence, prosecution has successfully proved the offence of murder against both accused persons,” said the Special Judge.
The case dates back to October 31, 1984, when the victims were allegedly murdered in Mahipalpur following the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi. Court records reveal that a mob comprising 500 people, including the two accused, allegedly burnt shops and looted people in the area.
After the incident, a case was registered at Mehrauli police station in 1984. Following investigation, a chargesheet was filed against one accused, who was acquitted in 1986.
Later, 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.”
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 since been closed.
During arguments, 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 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.
“…During his evidence… the witness was profusely weeping…,” the court said.