BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa slapped one of the two men convicted in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, at the Patiala House court on Thursday, alleging he was provoked. The incident took place right after the two men stepped out of Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Ajay Pandey’s court and were being taken to Tihar Jail by the 3rd Batallion of Delhi Armed Police.
In a video of the incident, Sirsa is seen slapping one of the accused and hurling abuses. Supporters of the convicts hurl abuses as well.
— ANI (@ANI) November 15, 2018
Talking to The Indian Express after the incident, Sirsa said: “He (accused) first provoked me saying ‘bhool gaye ’84, yaad dilaun kya (have you forgotten 1984… should I make you remember)’…Then I couldn’t control myself.”
Convicting accused Naresh and Yashpal on November 14, ASJ Pandey had said they were part of an unlawful assembly that murdered Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in 1984 in Mahipalpur. The court heard arguments on sentencing on Thursday and reserved its order for November 20.
Condemning the incident, Advocate H S Phoolka, who argued in the case, said: “…Such incidents are likely to adversely affect the case of the victim. Everyone should control their emotions and maintain peace within the court premises.”
DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said: “Sirsa and others were raising slogans; police intervened after the incident.” He added that Sirsa has filed a complaint of hooliganism by the other party. “But nothing of that sort happened,” Verma added.
During arguments, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case sought death penalty for the convicts, stating that the murder was part of the “genocide” against members of a particular community, which fell under the “rarest of rare” category.
Surinder Mohit Singh, public prosecutor for SIT, submitted that it was a “brutal” and “planned” murder as the accused were carrying kerosene and sticks.
Phoolka also cited a Supreme Court case — Kishori vs State AIR 1999 SC 32 — wherein the apex court “converted the death sentence into life imprisonment”, stating that no witness said Kishori was leading the mob or played an active role.
“In the present case, it is a clear finding of this court that the accused were leading the mob and also playing an active role. Hence, the accused should be awarded the death sentence,” said Phoolka.
Opposing this, the defence counsel sought life imprisonment and said that the attack was not deliberate or planned, but a sudden flare up. “The Prime Minister of the country was shot dead by her own bodyguards belonging to a particular community… The present case was a sudden flare up. There was no pre-planning,” the defence said.
Of the 650 cases registered in connection with the riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these cases, five were later taken up by CBI. The SIT found 60 cases appropriate for further probe and has filed “untraced reports” in 52 cases in the last one-and-a-half years.