Justice denied to Sikhs
On the 29th of last month I read that the CBI dropped charges against Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case. From the start the case hadn’t gone well, and in fact in 2005, The Union Home Ministry had asked the CBI to re-open the cases against former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler, Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and senior Congress leader from Karol Bagh Dharam Das Shastri, all accused in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Additionally, in May this year the High court admitted an appeal by the CBI against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar, MLA Jai Kishan and eight others in the anti-Sikh riots case at Sultanpuri in North-West Delhi.
The CBI has now done an about-turn. Even before the hearings are over, they have absolved Tytler of charges, saying that “the witnesses in this case had either passed away or were not available to testify”!
One accused, Dharam Das Shastri has also passed away and the judgment against Sajjan Kumar is pending.
Sikhs are furious, and I doubt whether yesterday’s Delhi court notice to the CBI for letting Jagdish Tytler off before the hearing is over has made them feel much better. The next date of hearing is on November 29th.
I don’t know what will happen on November 29th but don’t feel very optimistic. Its clear that the CBI, which is a central government agency, is not operating in an objective manner. Its ironic that our Prime Minister himself is a Sikh but is watching helplessly…it is also clear that he has no voice. Someone else has…and we all know who it is.
For me, the anti-Sikh riots are a living memory. I was witness to them. I was young then, living in my parents house, and when we heard Delhi was burning we rushed up to the terrace. We saw fires dotting the skyline…and it was clear that there was deep trouble in the city. The very next day we had tickets booked to fly us to Pune, tickets which had been booked two weeks earlier.
My dad said things would probably quieten down by the next morning…but nothing prepared us for what we saw. Frenzied mobs running after Sikhs. My dad regretted the decision of taking us out that day…but it was too late to turn back. All he could do was keep saying…keep calm, keep calm. I was not calm, I was frozen with shock. Our car was stopped by a mob as we neared the airport. Crazy looking people with rods flung opened the door and shouted, ‘Koi Sikh Hai?’ (Is there any Sikh here?)
They stared at my short hair and then at the others…and laughed. ‘Sikh nahi hai…‘ (There are no Sikhs here) they said to each other. Then one of them stuck his face back in. ‘Dicky me chupaya hai kya?’ (Have you hidden them in the boot?) My father said no. But they checked. As they did I saw them catch a young twenty year old boy and set him on fire. As our car rolled by, for some reason I saw the scene in slow-motion…the boy screaming…till today I see that scene as vividly as if it were yesterday.
And now 23 years later justice has not been done. Even though it is well known who the culprits are. Two of my Sikh friends swore they would leave India forever…and well, they did. They are far away now. One is in the UK and the other in the US.