August 10, 2005

Inquiry into inquiry

An inquiry report was made public on August 8. (See, for example, this report and this one). Take a deep breath and hold tight as I run through ... yes, that's right, the previous inquiries into the same events.

What events? The 1984 killing of Sikhs: by my reckoning, the worst crimes, the greatest terrorism, in our independent history.

The first inquiry was by police officer Ved Marwah, who headed a committee to investigate the role of the police in the massacre. Six months after the killings, Rajiv Gandhi's government appointed Justice Ranganath Mishra to investigate "allegations in regard to the incidents of organised violence." Justice Mishra submitted his report in August 1986. In February 1987, the government tabled his report in Parliament and, on Justice Mishra's recommendation, promptly ... appointed three more commissions.

Yes, three more.

The Jain-Bannerjee commission would look into cases that were not registered or not adequately investigated. The Kapur-Mital commission would identify guilty police officers. The Ahooja commission would determine exactly how many were slaughtered. (Six months later, Ahooja had the figure: 2733).

Jain-Bannerjee's first recommendation was to register a case of murder against the Delhi Congress politician Sajjan Kumar. One of Kumar's accomplices, Brahmanand Gupta, went to court to shut down Jain-Bannerjee on legal technicalities. Two years later, he succeeded. In March 1990, the VP Singh government appointed the Poti-Rosha commission, correcting the legal problems Jain-Bannerjee had faced.

In August 1990, Poti-Rosha recommended filing various cases based on affidavits from victims.

One was against Sajjan Kumar. A CBI team went to Kumar's home to file the charges; his supporters locked them up and threatened them harm if they persisted. As a result, when Poti-Rosha's term expired in September 1990, Poti and Rosha disbanded their inquiry.

Within two months, the Delhi administration appointed the Jain-Aggarwal commission to resume Poti-Rosha's work. Over the next three years, Jain-Aggarwal recommended filing several more cases, including against Sajjan Kumar and other Congress leaders like HKL Bhagat.

In 1994, the Delhi Administration appointed the Naroola Advisory Committee to "review the status" of the recommendations made by Poti-Rosha, Kapur-Mital and Jain-Aggarwal. In 2000, the Vajpayee Government appointed the Nanavati Commission: the ninth official inquiry into the massacre. It is the Nanavati report that was just made public.

There were unofficial inquiries too. PUCL produced a searing expose of the slaughter titled "Who Are The Guilty?" The BJP did a survey and concluded that 2700 people had been killed. Citizens for Democracy under Justice VM Tarkunde, and a Citizens' Commission led by Justice SM Sikri, ex-Chief Justice of India, both produced reports by early 1985. And a Citizens' Justice Commission formed to help the Ranganath Mishra Commission collect affidavits and evidence.

A long list of inquiries, right? But it gets even more egregious. Not one inquiry resulted in even one case filed and pursued against anyone, certainly not Kumar or Bhagat.

Yet two cases, no thanks to inquiries, actually brought Kumar to court. The police filed the first in 1984, accusing Kumar and 10 accomplices of instigating riots that killed 49 in Sultanpuri in Delhi. In early 2000, Additional Sessions Judge RC Yaduvanshi dismissed it, citing the police's failure to produce sufficient evidence.

The CBI filed a second case in 1990, acting on a complaint by a widow called Anwar Kaur. She accused Kumar of leading the mob that killed her husband in Sultanpuri. "They were armed with lathis and other weapons," she told the Judge in a 1999 hearing. "They hit my husband with lathis till he died."

"Sajjan Kumar," Anwar Kaur told the Judge, "was standing there and instigating the mob."

On December 23 2002, Additional Sessions Judge Manju Goel acquitted Kumar in Anwar Kaur's case. The CBI, Goel observed, had failed to produce sufficient evidence. (There are always failures to produce sufficient evidence against powerful men).

Outraged? A perversion of justice, you think? Shame that in 20 years, we've produced reports in plenty, but no justice?

Well, fear not. Justice Nanavati's report is out, and we can now wait for the wheels of justice to turn and the law to take its own course.

Wait, in other words, for the next massacre of Indians.


ENSAAF's response to the tabling of the Nanavati report.

My January post on the film "Amu".


Anonymous said...

One more case of justice being denied. Justice Nanavati unfortunately took the clever and ambiguous route. At least as a tokenism the Manmohan govt should sack Jagadish Tytler. Also unfortunate that the Left isn't pressing for it.

Anonymous said...

Why would the left press for this? It does not affect their vote banks. These are the same people who are holding the 'high torch of scularism'. I doubt whether anything will happen to Jagdish Tytler. He is after close to the 'Super PM'. Even if he is sacked he will return the next year after all the furore has died down. I hope I am proved wrong on this one.
I am curious why Shabana, Arundhati, Teesta, PRaful Bidwai and the usual gang of suspects are silent about this entire abomination.

Anonymous said...

Well, Nikhil, as a matter of fact the Left has exerted pressure today for punishing the guilty, and Tytler is shown the door.

Amit said...

Who cares if he resigned or not... resigning as a minister is not the "punishment" for killing innocent citizens however much you loved the "big tree that fell and shook the earth" ... I do not give a damn if he resigned or not... he needs to be hanged and all others who have been found guilty in this and all other riots....

My blood just boils thinking that rioting has now become a business and routine one at that

Dilip D'Souza said...

Nikhil, just one sample:

Arundhati Roy.

You're welcome to dig about some more, if you so wish and I doubt you do.

It's good Tytler resigned, and while I share your frustration, @mit, the way we have things, he has to be tried before he is hung. So I hope he will at least be prosecuted seriously. I doubt he will be, but I hope.

Anonymous said...

Anand- I am glad I have been partly proven wrong. But I still wonder if any action will be taken against him or that he will be banished from Public life. He will surely come back after all the furore has died down. For once the left parties have behaved in the national interest.
@mit- Well said. I agree with you totally.
Dilip : Thanks for the link. Just skimmed through it and found just one line. I shall go through it in detail. But dont you agree that the media people who are so vocal on Gujarat and other such abominations(as they rightly should) are coy about hauling up the people responsible for the 84 sikh riots. When a prominent columnist wrote about Manmohan Singhs appointment as PM, he had the standard one line mention of the riots saying that they were carried out by Hindus. By his implication ordinary Hindus (me included)spontaneously went on a killing spree and indulged in murder and mayhem to avenge Indira Gandhis death. We wanted to prove that 'when a great tree falls the earth shakes'.
According to me the following 4 incidents continue to be a blot on our society:
The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri pundits and the inability of the Indian govt to ensure their safe return.
The 84 sikh riots and subsquent non-action against the guilty people.
The Meerut, Bhagalpur, Bombay and Gujarat riots and total non-action against the guilty.

Where is there any deterrence against rioting.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Nikhil, I didn't point you to that Roy piece because it is filled with lines about the '84 riots. I did so because I always hear this stuff about "why didn't X/Y/Z say anything about A/B/C?" And then when you show what Y, say, has said, that demand mutates to "But it's only one line, and what about X and Z?"

I have written plenty of times (I would estimate 40-50 articles) about the Sikh massacre, yet till today, I get messages asking "Why haven't you written about them"?

As for the implication that you are responsible for killing the Sikhs, that's nonsense and I have no clue why you should feel that's the implication. I haven't read anything by anyone that can be interpreted like that; and if there is something, it should be condemned outright. After all, when people say Muslims carried out 9/11, are they implying all Muslims are terrorists?

I fully agree with you about the blots.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the foreign correspondents post, the question that struck me was why he chose to mention 'Hindus'. Could he not have simply said ' Many in the PM's party have been alleged to have a hand in the rioting'. No legal problems for him either. But he just had to mention 'Hindu'. This is what struck me as odd.

Suhail said...

Excellent post Dilip. I was definitely enlightened. I mean I had no idea there were total of 9 enquiries for this. It's a shame that if even after 9 enquiries, nothing has been done. One lives on hope though.

I believe such records/data need to be archived. If not for nothing, for history's and documentation sake. I have pointed it out to Sepia Mutiny.

Anonymous said...

So Dilips holding candle for Arundhati yet once again.
As for her croc tears for Kashmiris, her's a picture worth a thousand words

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