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’84 riots
Re-probe Tytler’s role: Court
Rejects closure of case; orders CBI to examine US-based witness
S.S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 18
A city court today rejected the CBI’s closure report against Congress leader and former minister Jagdish Tytler about his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and ordered fresh investigation by examining the US-based key witness, Jasbir Singh, who had filed an affidavit before the Nanavati Commission.

The CBI, in its closure report submitted on September 29 before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Sanjeev Jain, had given a “clean chit” to Tytler, claiming that the so called lone witness Jasbir Singh was not traceable and no other evidence had come across about the Congress leaders’ role in the riots.

But the ACMM today was not convinced with the CBI stand as Jasbir Singh was traced by several news organisations in California, where he is living. The court in fact provided Jasbir’s address to the CBI, procured by it from some TV channels, whose correspondents had interviewed him in California.

Dismissing the CBI claim about the “untraceable” crucial witness, the ACMM directed the agency to submit a status report on the action taken by January 16.

“I am of the opinion that the matter needs further investigation,” Jain said, making it clear to the CBI that if it failed to come up with satisfactory reply by the next hearing, the court could use its powers under the CrPC to ensure how the case should be investigated.

The agency had registered the case against Tytler on the recommendation of Justice G.T Nanavati Commission findings that there was “prima facie” evidence about his involvement in the criminal conspiracy to engineer riots against Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination on October 31, 1984. Similar findings were given by the panel against Sajjan Kumar, Dharam Das Shashtri and late Congress strongman H.K.L Bhagat for “engineering” the riots.

Tytler was accused by the agency in its FIR after the Commission’s report that he had “instigated” a mob of his supporters on November 3, 1984 to attack Sikhs who had taken shelter in Pul-Bangash Gurdwara in North Delhi and as a result three persons were massacred.

The CBI had, on September 29, submitted an application for closure of the case against Tytler, claiming that Jasbir Singh was not “traceable”. But the agency’s claim flew on its face as several newspapers and TV channels soon after came up with statements of Jasbir Singh from California that he was ready to record his statement before the agency provided he was given full protection to travel to India or his statement was recorded by the agency sending a team to the USA.

Jasbir Singh had emerged as a key witness in the case against Tytler after he had filed an affidavit before Nanavati Commission and Jain-Banerjee committee stating that he had personally seen and heard Tytler exhorting his supporters near the gurdwara to kill Sikhs.

According to Jasbir’s lawyer Navkiran Singh and senior advocate H.S Phooka, appearing for various Sikh bodies, the witness in his affidavit before the commission had had submitted that Tytler was complaining to his supporters against killing of less number of Sikhs in his area, which had undermined his position in the party.

After the court today took tough stand in the case, the CBI is left with no option but either to send a team to USA to record the statement of Jasbir Singh, or make arrangement for recording it through video conferencing at the Indian Embassy.

The other option could be the court its “commission” to the US to record his statement before a local court in California.

Meanwhile, Jasbir Singh, interviewed in California by various TV channels after today’s proceedings, expressed his willingness to record his statement.

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