The Centre’s special investigation team (SIT) is set to reopen and reinvestigate around 75 closed cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the national capital, a move that could ring political resonance in poll-bound Punjab.
The SIT will issue advertisements regarding these cases and ask victims and witnesses to join the probe.
“Delhi had 237 anti-Sikh riot cases that were closed because of non-availability of victims or lack of evidence. After reviewing their documents, the SIT has decided to reopen about 75 cases so far,” a government official involved in the review process said on the condition of anonymity.
The riots consumed over 3000 lives across the country and over 2500 in Delhi alone. Different estimates peg different number with some claiming 3000 deaths in Delhi alone. Riots broke out after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.
Delhi Police registered 587 cases in connection with the riots. Later, it closed 241 cases but four were reopened in 2006 and one in 2013, which led to the conviction of 35 people. The rest of the 237 cases remained closed.
Delhi had 237 anti-Sikh riot cases that were closed because of non-availability of victims or lack of evidence. After reviewing their documents, the SIT has decided to re-examine about 75 cases so far.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had, on the first week of June, written letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to expedite investigation into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Kejriwal had called the SIT formed by the Centre to probe the riots “eyewash”. He asked Modi to consider winding up the SIT and allow the Delhi government to set up a special investigation team for “proper investigation and justice for the victims”.
2016 marks the 32nd anniversary of the anti-Sikh massacre. AAP had alleged that in these 32 years, 10 commissions and committees were formed but they only eluded the victims. It was a long-standing demand of the Sikh community that an SIT be set up.
But this new development may be seen as a bid for one upmanship between AAP and BJP. While another important player in Punjab elections, the Congress could perhaps point this to be a political move.
Alliance partners Shrimani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP will be put to rest in 2017 state assembly elections, with new entrant in Punjab politics, AAP to be a serious challenger.
Congress party which is now out of power for a decade in Punjab is also attempting to make a comeback.