Victims Protest Nanavati and Government Reports; Parliament Shuts Down

August 9, 2005 | Comments Off on Victims Protest Nanavati and Government Reports; Parliament Shuts Down

After the opposition threatened to disrupt legislative proceedings in reaction to the Nanavati report and the Government’s Action Taken Report (ATR), both houses of Parliament shut down for the day.  300 families of victims of the 1984 massacres protested outside of Parliament.  Their chants highlighted their 21-year agonizing quest for justice, in the face of failed inquiries:

They burned copies of the Nanavati report and carried signs that read “We want justice, not reports.”

Nirmal Kaur demanded answers for the failure of justice during the past 21 years:

“They pulled out our men, beat them, torched them and killed them, and all of them are still roaming free,” said Nirmal Kaur, 52, whose husband was killed in the riots. “If no justice was to be delivered, why did the government keep us in darkness for 21 years?”

Other survivors demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who began his tenure by recalling the devastation of the 1984 massacres.  Subsequently, however, he added two ministers to his cabinet who had been implicated in the massacres by victims and witnesses.  As one Sikh demonstrator said:

The demonstrators also slammed Singh, saying he had betrayed his own community. “He has done nothing for the Sikhs. He is just a Congress puppet,” said Sattu Singh, a mattress maker, who lost his mother and brother in the riots.

Popri Kaur questioned the government’s efficiency in convicting the killers of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, but in failing dismally to convict the killers of thousands of Sikhs:

Beating her chest and crying out loud, Popri Kaur questioned, “ If they did not kill our men, who did? If the government managed to bring Satwant Singh and Beant Singh to justice, why are killers of my husband roaming scot-free?”

The Congress killed our men and saved their killers, she said, adding that her fight for justice would continue till the time she was alive.

Employed as a peon with a bank, Popri Kaur lost 21 family members, including her husband and 10 brothers-in-law.

In his article, “Evidence against Tytler can form basis for extra chargesheet & a new case,” reporter Manoj Mitta countered the government’s assertion that it cannot legally bring another inquiry or case against Jagdish Tytler, the Minister of Non-resident Indian Affairs:

The police have the option of filing a supplementary chargesheet against Tytler under FIR No 316/84 of Bara Hindu Rao Police Station which specifically deals with the burning of Gurdwara Pul Bangash and killing of Thakur Singh and Badal Singh there.

This option exists despite the fact that in 1992 a sessions judge, J B Goel, acquitted 31 other accused persons named in the chargesheet already filed by the police under FIR No 316/84.

As evident from his report, ex-Supreme Court judge Justice G T Nanavati had very much taken into account the 1992 acquittals before recommending in 2005 that Tytler’s alleged complicity in the Gurdwara Pul Bangash episode be looked into.

The filing of a supplementary chargesheet against Tytler in that case does not violate the constitutional bar on ‘‘double jeopardy’’ as he was not among the accused who had already been tried and acquitted….

Another major finding against Tytler relates to the affidavit of Jasbir Singh who alleged before the Commission that he had seen the then Congress MP of Sadar constituency berating his followers for not killing enough Sikhs in that constituency as compared to others.

Since the Commission recommended further action on this finding as well, the Government can book a case of criminal conspiracy against Tytler for the killing of Sikhs in his Sadar constituency during the 1984 carnage. (Incidentally, the death toll throughout Sadar was over 150.)

In other responses, Tribune (Chandigarh) editor A.J. Philip recounted his personal experiences during the 1984 pogroms, demonstrating that the violence extended throughout India.  He witnessed violence in Patna and also learned that Sikhs from his native village in Kerala had also not been spared.

Himmat Sinigh Gill, a retired Army officer who served as Brigadier in Arunachal Pradesh during the 1984 massacres,  lays blame on then Lt. Gov. PG Gavai for not calling in the Army to quell the abuses until days later. He also calls senior government leaders to account for the purposeful failure to use police and paramilitary to quell the massacres:

When we have floods, riots in Mumbai, killings in Punjab in the 1990s, the army is prompt to man the battle stations. What, pray, happened in 1984, and why did the army chief in consultation with the home minister not take a decision without waiting for the approval of the prime minister? For a right cause, does one need the nod of a PM?

The home minister and his cronies fared no better. Why have the tax payers’ money being wasted on raising para military and police forces all over the country, and yet none of these forces were used by the home minister to carry out a task that falls well within their area of responsibility.

If Messrs Tytler and Bhagat had any conscience they would have stepped down from positions of power and responsibility longago. But why did the PM appoint Tytler as a minister? Why should he not put in his papers now?

Gill calls on the government to punish the guilty:

All those who keep silent today, will be forever blamed by the Sikhs. Even now, it is time to take the blame, punish the guilty, say sorry and move on.


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