In a move that assumes political significance ahead of Assembly elections in Punjab, the Home Ministry-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) is likely to re-open around 186 cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which had been closed, sources said.
In the riots, which broke out in retaliation against the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984, more than 3,000 people were killed. As many as 2,733 deaths were in Delhi alone. As many as 587 cases in connection with the 1984 riots were registered by the Delhi Police, of which 241 cases were later closed. Four of these cases, however, were reopened in 2006 and one in 2013, leading to 35 people being convicted in the cases. The remaining cases stayed closed.
Following a recommendation of a committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice (retd) G P Mathur, the Ministry of Home Affairs had constituted the SIT in February 2015. It was expected to re-open cases which the Delhi Police either did not investigate or simply closed for lack of evidence. This meant that cases involving Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in which chargesheets were never filed would be reopened and fresh charges could be filed.
The SIT was set up with an initial term of six months, after which the Home Ministry extended it by a year.
According to a Home Ministry official, prima facie it was found that there are 186 riot cases which could be re-investigated and the special investigation team is examining them. However, the prosecution has to take the permission of the respective courts to re-open each case.
Earlier this month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him “to either get your SIT to do something, or kindly wind-up this SIT and allow the Delhi government to set up an SIT.” Kerjiwal had claimed that apprehension was growing in the minds of people that the SIT “was just an eyewash”, adding that the 49-day AAP government had decided to form an SIT to probe the 1984 riot cases.
The Home Ministry had last month announced that 1,020 families who had been hit by the riots and migrated to Punjab from different parts of the country would be given Rs 2 lakh each as part of a centrally-sponsored rehabilitation scheme.
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