After Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party has also backed the demand by the victims of 1984 riots that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be constituted to probe the carnage on the streets of Delhi that had left thousands dead.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday met Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to press for action on the long standing demand. “I discussed it with the Lieutenant Governor and he is very positive about it. We will discuss the special investigation team formation and its terms in the next cabinet meeting,” he said.
Although the SIT probe demand was part of the AAP manifesto, the timing of Kejriwal’s move suggests that he may be looking to put the Congress in a tight spot given the furore created by Rahul Gandhi’s recent comments on the issue.
Rahul Gandhi brought the 1984 riots back into focus after he, in an interview to a news channel, sought to differentiate the role of governments during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and in the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. The Congress vice president also refused to apologise for the riots saying he was not involved in them or in the Congress party at that time.
While Rahul accepted that some Congress men were probably involved in the riots, he stressed that they have gone through a legal process and some of them have been punished for it
The demand for a probe into the deadly riots is a long standing one and has gained more strength over the years given the slow pace of the trial against the accused. Senior Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar are among those who have been accused of instigating rioters to go on a killing spree to take revenge for the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
Counsel for the 1984 victims, HS Phoolka, who has been leading the initiative to get an SIT probe the riots, said, “Never ever such manslaughter occurred, hardly anyone was found guilty, it is a blot on India. Many witnesses are still alive, evidence is still there.”
Phoolka said that he agreed with Rahul Gandhi that 1984 riots were “different” as in Gujarat riots, 131 persons were awarded life imprisonment, 10 awarded the death sentence and one minister was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment, but hardly anyone has been punished for the riots of 1984.
The senior counsel also said that Congress’ unwillingness to constitute a SIT probe on 1984 riots reeks of double standards when the party had fully supported the formation of SIT to probe the Gujarat riots.