The silence of the lambs

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Sajjan Kumar Photo: Shailendra Pandey

OVER 15 YEARS after he recommended that criminal cases be filed against Congress leaders Har Kishan Lal Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar for allegedly leading mobs that killed hundreds of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984, DK Aggarwal, a retired DGP of Uttar Pradesh, is reluctant to comment on the recent developments. “It’s pointless,” he says. “The decision lies with the politicians.” Coax him further and he says, “They did appear to be involved. But our legal system is such that once a long time lapses, the evidence gets diluted, sometimes even tutored, thereby rendering it unreliable.”

Agarwal and retired Delhi High Court judge JD Jain were appointed in December 1990 to head a committee to investigate the Sikh massacre that followed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination on October 31, 1984. This inquiry — the sixth since the carnage — was wound up in August 1993 and its recommendations ignored.

It was on the basis of the recommendations of a subsequent commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge GT Nanavati (the 10th such inquiry) that three cases against Sajjan Kumar were finally registered in August 2005. The first case relates to the killing of 18 Sikhs in the Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment, in which five witnesses told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that they saw Sajjan Kumar leading the mob. Nirpreet Kaur, who testified before the CBI against Kumar, told TEHELKA that on the morning of November 2, she saw Kumar standing in a police jeep and announce: “No Sikh should live. Any house that shelters Sikh families will be burnt.

In the second case of the Sultanpuri area of northwest Delhi, six witnesses identified Sajjan Kumar as leading that mob. But the police are yet to file the chargesheets in the two cases. The investigation in the third case was shelved. “Why should the police wait? There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Kumar,” says HS Phoolka, Supreme Court advocate and counsel for many of the victims.

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WHAT THE EYE SAW

11 witnesses told CBI that Kumar led the mobs in two places

Kumar threatened that homes that sheltered Sikhs would be burnt

Lawyer Phoolka says there is enough evidence to prosecute him

THE MANIPULATION

The police did not file any chargesheets in two cases

Investigations in a third case were shelved for reasons not known

TEHELKA sting in 2005 exposed how middlemen tried to bribe witnesses

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In its October 8, 2005 issue (Carnage 84: The Ambushing of Witnesses), TEHELKA exposed the middlemen who acted on behalf of Bhagat and Kumar to either threaten or pay off key eyewitnesses and survivors of the massacre.

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