The Supreme Court will constitute a Special Investigation Team to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and said that the matter had not been investigated in a proper manner earlier.
A reopening of the cases will be a big blow to the Congress party which has been trying to shore up its fortunes after the BJP swept it out of power at the Centre and in many states. Several senior Congress leaders were accused of having played a major role in the genocide. The Congress welcomed the order.
1984 anti-Sikh riots case: Supreme Court says it will set up a three-member— ANI (@ANI) January 10, 2018
committee, headed by a retired High Court judge, for re-investigation of the 186 cases.
The probe team, comprising a retired judge of the high court, will reopen 186 cases, reported the ANI. The names in the panel were supposed to be announced at 3 pm, but now it is being said that the apex court will name the members on Thursday, January 11. The team will also include a serving police officer and a retired DIG-level police officer.
The BJP has also welcomed the Supreme Court's order and party leader R P Singh said he hoped that "ultimately justice will prevail".
"Although it is delayed. I hope the concerned ministry will look into the matter," Singh told Times Now.
Speaking about how the Sikh community has always hoped for justice, Naresh Gujral, Akali leader, and Rajya Sabha MP told Times Now: "I welcome this decision. We have been demanding that justice be given. But Congress regime was ensuring that investigative agencies have been doing shoddy job. I am hopeful that perpetrators are punished and that in future, those (SIT) members do their job properly."
Also known as the Sikh massacre, the butchering of Sikhs post the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards remains a black chapter in the history of modern India. Many Congress leaders at the time were accused of leading the lynch mobs that ravaged through the national capital for three days.
Official figures pegged the death toll from the riots at over 2,800 all over India, with 2,100 killings just in Delhi. However, independent sources say that there were 8,000 Sikhs killed, of which 3,000 were from Delhi alone. About 20,000 people are said to have fled Delhi at the time.
Congress politician and former member of the Parliament Jagdish Tytler was one of the leaders named in the case.
The Nanavati Commission, which probed the riots, had said that it had found "credible evidence" against Tytler, but he claimed innocence and blamed it a case of "mistaken identity."
While the CBI had closed all cases against Tytler in November 2007, a two-member CBI team had on December 18, 2007, recorded the statements of two eyewitnesses Jasbir Singh and Surinder Singh, who said that they had seen Tytler lead a mob during the riots. The eye-witnesses had settled in the US and did not want to come to India as they feared for their life.