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CBI to reopen cases against Sajjan Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 15
In a significant development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has moved the trial court here to reopen the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases against Congress MP Sajjan Kumar, seeking original documents of the cases, which were closed without even filing the charge sheets.

The CBI said in an affidavit filed before a Metropolitan Magistrate that “despite statements by witnesses indicating involvement of Kumar, no charge sheets were filed against him and cases were terminated as untraced.”

The agency’s move comes within weeks of the government announcing compensation to the victims of the riots in Delhi and other parts of the country.

The CBI’s move is the direct fallout of the promise made by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament. “Our government assures the House that wherever the commission has named any specific individuals as needing further examination or specific cases needing reopening and re-examination, the government will take all possible steps to do so within the ambit of law,” he said, adding “this is a solemn promise and a solemn commitment to this House.”

The 339-page report said the riots were organised involving Congress leaders and could not have taken place “but for the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons, killing of Sikhs so swiftly and in a large number could not have happened.”

The CBI is acting on the Centre’s directive to reopen cases against Sajjan Kumar, former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler and some other leaders against whom the commission found “credible evidence” of involvement in the riots, which broke out following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The Centre had recently referred to the CBI the cases against Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Dharam Dass Shastri asking it to examine whether they should be reinvestigated.

In all, the Centre had referred 10 cases to the CBI — seven against Sajjan Kumar, two against Tytler and one against Shastri.

Tytler was forced to quit the Union Cabinet, while Sajjan Kumar resigned as the Chairman of the Delhi Rural Development Board after their indictment created a political storm as opposition parties and Sikh religious groups raised a hue and cry.

Significantly, three earlier panels set up by the government — Jain-Banerjee Committee, Poti-Rosha Committee and Jain-Aggarwal Committee — had recommended that cases be registered against Sajjan Kumar. But, the government had not taken much action against them based on the panel’s recommendations.

The CBI has sought possession of original documents of the cases, statements of witnesses filed by the Delhi Police, a copy of closure report dated February 8, 1994, orders of a Metropolitan Magistrate dated February 28, 2004, on acceptance of closure report and case diaries.

Another Magistrate court had earlier accepted the closure reports in both matters filed by the Delhi Police which said the assailants could not be “traced”.

In one of the two FIRs in question, Joginder Singh, a resident of Sultanpuri in West Delhi, had alleged that Sajjan Kumar, the Outer Delhi MP, had on November 1, 1984 “brought a mob of ruffians and told them they had 72 hours’ freedom to kill Sikhs and no Sikh should escape”.

Joginder Singh had further related how his 32-year-old brother Surjeet Singh was “dragged out and burnt alive”. “I was not allowed to save my brother and was pushed away by the assailants,” he had further said in his affidavit.

In the second FIR filed by one Anek Kaur of the same area, she had said she saw Sajjan Kumar, accompanied by another Congress leader Jai Kishan, threatening people gheraoed by a rampaging mob that “all members of the Sikh community would be killed.”

On the role of Sajjan Kumar in the riots, the commission had recommended examination of only those cases where the witnesses had made accusations against him specifically.

“There is credible material” against Sajjan Kumar and another Congress leader, Balwan Khokar, that they were “probably involved as alleged by witnesses”, the Nanavati Commission had said.

However, the Action Taken Report of the government on the commission’s findings tabled in Parliament had rejected the recommendation saying “it is clear from the remarks ‘very probably’ that the commission itself was not absolutely sure about his involvement in such attacks.”

Sajjan Kumar was acquitted by an Additional Sessions Judge in 2002, the ATR noted saying: “No fresh material or evidence has been produced before the Justice Nanavati Commission against Sajjan Kumar in connection with incidents of riots covered under an FIR in Sultanpuri police station. Therefore, it will not be just to reopen this case.”

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