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Tytler’s fate
All eyes on Sonia, court
Anita Katyal/Our Political Correspondent

Jagdish Tytler’s fate is likely to be decided on Thursday by the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. The CBI had pleaded before the court on April 2 that the case against Tytler be cancelled.

According to CBI, affidavits in the case by two witnesses, Surender Singh and Jasbir Singh, were inconsistent and contradictory.

In January, 2002 Surender Singh filed an affidavit before the Justice Nanavati Commission probing the riots.

In August, 2002, he filed another affidavit pleading ignorance about the first document, the CBI said.

In 2006, he filed a third affidavit backing the August 2002 claim and was re-examined in 2008 after which he left for the US.

California-based Jasbir Singh, who had earlier been declared untraceable by the CBI, stated in his affidavit that on November 3, 1984 he had overheard Tytler commenting on the killing of Sikhs in his then constituency Sadar Bazar. — PTI

New Delhi, April 8
Congress leader Jagdish Tytler’s fate continued to hang in balance today as the party leadership was still to take view on his candidature for the Lok Sabha elections.

Party president Sonia Gandhi, who returned from her election trip to Kerala today, was conferring with her colleagues till late tonight on the political implications of continuing with Tytler as its candidate from the Northeast Delhi Lok Sabha seat, especially after today’s angry protests by Sikh groups in Punjab.

Although party sources indicated that Tytler’s candidature would be withdrawn, a final decision is expected to be taken by Sonia Gandhi after tomorrow’s court hearing on the CBI report that gave a clean chit to Tytler for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Since the nominations for the Delhi elections are to begin on April 11, the party leadership has sufficient time to take a considered view, explained a senior Congress leader.

The report has evoked a sharp reaction issue from Sikh groups. The protests have further intensified after an angry Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at Home Minister P.Chidambaram yesterday to protest the CBI report. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which was on the backfoot in the upcoming general elections, is predictably going all out to whip up passions on this issue.

While the final call on Tytler’s candidature is to be taken by Sonia Gandhi, the Congress remains in the grip of an intense debate on the political fall-out of the issue, which has hit the spotlight just weeks before a crucial general election. Worried Congress leaders maintained that the party could pay a heavy political cost if they continued with Tytler’s candidature. In case the issue spirals out of control in the coming days, it will have an impact not just in Punjab but in several other states, which have a sizeable Sikh population, they pointed out.

Officially, the Congress appeared reluctant to take a clear view on this issue. Party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan stonewalled all questions on the subject saying: “When the time comes to make a clear statement, that will be made. At this point of time I would like to confine myself to saying let's wait and see what happens.”

Tytler, on his part, said he had left the decision of his nomination to the Congress president. Blaming the Akalis for instigating yesterday’s shoe-throwing incident, he said: “The '84 anti-Sikh riots case is a closed chapter for me after CBI's clean chit.”

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AP Sikhs not to vote for Cong
Suresh Dharur/Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 8
Angered over the CBI giving clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, in connection with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Sikh community in Andhra Pradesh has resolved not to vote for the ruling party in the coming elections.

“Till now, we have been under the impression that the Congress washed off its sins by making Dr Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister. When Congress president Sonia Gandhi declared that he would continue to be her party’s prime ministerial candidate, many of us thought of voting for the Congress this time. But we are deeply distressed over the CBI exonerating Tytler only to help him in the present elections. Now, we have resolved not to vote for the Congress in these elections,” said Darshan Singh, secretary, Gurdwara Sahib here, one of the biggest gurdwaras of South India.

There are about two lakh Sikh voters in Andhra Pradesh, mostly concentrated in the state capital and surrounding towns. In Hyderabad alone, there are 17 gurdwaras. And Deccan Sikhs, as they are called, have been engaged in various trades such as textiles, crockery, automobile spare parts, transport and steel.

Kartar Onkar Singh, an irrigation engineer and member of Hyderabad Central Gurdwara, said: “Deccani Sikhs had been traditional Congress voters. But, it changed after the “Operation Bluestar” and there has been a complete shift in favour of Telugu Desam Party after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi.

“There were attempts to attack gurdwaras and our homes in Hyderabad, too. But thanks to then Chief Minister late N T Rama Rao, we were saved. Within hours of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, security was provided to all gurdwaras and Sikh colonies in the state,” he said. Sikh journalist Jarnail Singh, who hit the headlines by hurling a shoe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram yesterday also found lot of supporters in Hyderabad.

“Though legally what he has done might be wrong, but one must understand how angry the community is with the government for its inaction,” a senior journalist Bachanjeet Singh said.

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