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Decades Too Late - Delhi Court Convicts 3 Murderers from ‘84 Anti-Sikh Pogrom

April 4, 2007
Source: Khalsa Press


Guilty of Murder : Jagdish Giri, RK Tiwari, and Hariparsad Bhardwaj


New Delhi (KP) – Over two decades after the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms which ravaged the Sikh minority in the capital city of the ostensible 'world's largest democracy,' three Delhi based culprits have been convicted for the murders of three Sikhs who were mercilessly burnt alive after being lynched beaten and humiliated by the convicted assailants.

Hariprasad Bhardwaj, R.P. Tiwari and Jagdish Giri, were sentenced to life imprisonment by Additional Sessions Judge, Rajendra Kumar this past Thursday. After numerous bureaucratic obstacles the case first came to trial in 1996, twelve years after the crimes had been committed. At that time, two other culprits, Suraj Giri and a woman named Kamlesh were also put forth in the case but their charges were dropped for unverified reasons. Now finally eleven years after the case began, the court found the three guilty for the gruesome murders of Niranjan Singh, Gurpal Singh and Mahendar Singh; all burnt alive during the carnage of November 1984.

Along with being found guilty of the murders, Hariprasad Bhardwaj, R.P. Tiwari and Jagdish Giri were also charged and found guilty with destruction of evidence, larceny and for leading large mobs to specifically target and identify Sikh homes and businesses on November 1 and 2, 1984. In addition to the life imprisonment, each convict was also fined Rs. 5,000. According to the court verdict, failure to deposit the sum would increase the imprisonment by two years.

After the court hearing, opposition lawyer I.P. Singh Ahluwalia, who was seeking the death penalty for the culprits, told the press that he is determined to pursue the case of involvement of Suraj Giri and Kamlesh and disclosed that a petition would be filed with the High Court after receiving copy of the Additional Session Court Judge’s ruling of this case.

The defense lawyer requested the judge to give a lenient sentence since he claimed that his clients were suffering from health problems and had aged substantially since the initial crimes. Singh asked the judge to announce the most appropriate verdict without considering the ages of the guilty as at the time the pogroms took place, all three were in their early twenties. Due to the overwhelming amount of incriminating evidence presented by the prosecution, including eye witness testimonies, the court had no other alternative than to give the guilty verdict.

For the families of the victims, the verdict has brought only little closure as they noted that this verdict is far over due and that nothing could alleviate the pain or replace their loss that they have been suffering for the past two decades. Members from the families expressed frustration with the court system for the prolonged duration of the case which began a decade ago, considering the vast amount of incriminating evidence which had been presented by the prosecution at the onset of the trial.

Sikh leaders noted that this case is a rare example where the culprits have been convicted by the Indian judiciary. For the vast majority of the ‘84 pogroms cases presented in the Indian courts the outcome has not been in favor of the victims. On the contrary, the majority of the perpetrators have been granted administrative and judicial impunity by the Indian judiciary.

For the vast majority of the pogrom cases the Indian kangaroo judiciary system has in fact killed all hopes of justice for the victims of the genocide. Eye witnesses to the pogroms have named high level officials in the Congress Party government, MPs Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler for organizing and instigating mobs to kill Sikhs. Despite numerous eye witness testimonies identifying their participation in the killings, all were exonerated by the Indian Judiciary and in fact were rewarded with high positions in the Congress Party government in 2004.

The Indian government has failed to set the record straight and account for the carnage of November 1984. Through a series of inquires starting from the Misra Commission to the more recent Nanavati Commission the government has whitewashed the massacre, destroying crucial evidence, concealed proceedings from the public, and further denying a thorough investigation into the genocide.

Over 20,000 Sikhs were massacred during the government organized pogroms by Hindu-nationalist mobs throughout India, with over 5,000 killed in Delhi alone; in a systematic and widespread orchestration by the ruling Congress Party government and other Hindu extremist groups. Murderous gangs of 200 or 300 people led by prominent Congress party leaders massacred Sikhs, and used a variety of methods in the killings, raping Sikh women and setting Sikh men aflame. Millions of dollars worth of Sikh property was also destroyed while thousands were left homeless. The police watched on as these atrocities occurred and in some cases offered active support to the mobs. To date, no senior politician or police officer has faced conviction or official government condemnation for their role in the massacres.

Human Rights activists such as Harvinder Singh Phoolka, a senior advocate for the Supreme Court and former additional advocate, and the ENSAAF organization (
http://www.ensaaf.org/) have been active working to end impunity in India. HS Phoolka has been pursuing these cases selflessly for past 23 years without charging any fees from the victims. The Citizens for Justice Committee along with the Nov.'84 Carnage Justice Committee have been pursuing the cases of victims of Nov.'84 and demanding punishment of the guilty persons. Though over two decades have passed since the massacre, these activists along with other Sikh organizations remain resolute in their pursuit for justice.


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