’84 riots: protesters
New Delhi, August 10
Protesters’ agitation took an aggressive turn today when some of them protesting against the government’s inaction over the Nanavati Commission report, were injured in a lathi-charge near Gyarah Murti in the New Delhi area. The injured were taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and were discharged after first aid.
Trouble started after the police prevented jathas from Kalyanpuri, Trilokpuri, Tilak Vihar and Fateh Nagar from taking out processions and blocking the traffic at Dhaula Kuan and Gyarah Murti. When the protesters were stopped, they smashed PCR vans parked on the roadside, prompting the police to lathi-charge them, which resulted in injuries to some.
Later, as the angry protesters, including men, women and boys, re-gathered at the Sansad Marg police station after paying their obeisance at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, they tried to break the barricades to proceed towards Parliament. As the protesters, including widows of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, repeatedly tried to dismantle the barricades, the police, in its attempt to stop them, used water cannons.
But they continued to intensify the agitation in what seemed to be almost a challenge to the police. Later, they also burnt an effigy of Jagdish Tytler, along with a copy of the Nanavati Commission report, which they said was “weak and vague” despite a clear proof of Congress’ involvement in the riots. “This is just the beginning. We want all culprits to be tried under Section 302 of the IPC. Nothing less than that will do,” said SGPC member Kuldeep Singh Bhogal, one of the Sikh leaders who were with the riot victims of November 1984, in their protest at Sansad Marg, here.
In fact, the agitators are now planning to sport black badges and observe August 15 as black day. Several leaders and agitators also courted arrest and till late in the evening, several women were still sitting on the dharna, demanding the resignation of the tainted Congress leaders from Parliament and proper action against them in view of the allegations made on them for their role in the sectarian violence.
For the Delhi police, it was a test of nerves as they tried to placate the angry protesters after they re-assembled at Janta Mantar, near the Sansad Marg police station. Considering the sensitivity of the situation the police was very cautious. Senior police officials could be seen placating the angry crowd with folded hands.
On the earlier incidence of lathi-charge, the police maintained that it acted in a most restrained manner while trying to calm the angry crowd. New Delhi DCP Anita Roy, while denying that any one had been injured in the lathi-charge, tried to placate some leaders after holding a closed-door meeting with them. A division among different factions gathered there became evident when these leaders told the crowd to maintain peace in view of some “vested political interest”. This also resulted in verbal duel between different groups.
New Delhi ADCP Manish Agarwal also maintained that the police acted in a restrained manner while trying to maintain peace. The agitation, he said, had been by and large peaceful except for a minor incident when the crowd pulled down barricades and water cannons had to be used.
He also denied that anyone was hurt in the lathi-charge, adding that some persons received minor injuries after they barged in a group towards the barricades.
But the protesters claimed they were injured in a lathi-charge by the police. Seven to eight men and women, could be seen sporting injuries, ranging from minor bruises to cuts.
Pledging to observe August 15 as a black day, Harbans Kaur, who lost her husband and four other relatives in 1984, said today’s protest was just the beginning. “It has been a long wait of 21 years. We do not have any decent jobs or any facilities in rehabilitation colonies. And no political party can claim helping us ”
As per Delhi Akali Dal (Badal) chief Avtar Singh Hit, tomorrow the riot victims will disrupt the traffic at the Raja Garden Chowk on the busy outer Ring Road after which a meeting will be held to decide the future course of action.