Victim’s brother hails court verdict in 1984 riots case


Team Udayavani, Nov 21, 2018, 9:00 AM IST

New Delhi: “There were times when I felt like killing myself in the past 34 years but the court’s verdict today has restored my faith in judiciary,” said the brother of one of the deceased in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

A Delhi court Tuesday awarded death penalty to convict Yashpal Singh for killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in the Mahipalpur area of South Delhi during the riots, the first capital punishment in the case.

Additional session judge Ajay pandey also awarded life term to co-convict Naresh Sherawat in the case.

The case was lodged by the SIT formed in 2015 on an order by the Ministry of Home Affairs following a complaint filed by Santokh Singh, the brother of Hardev Singh. Santokh Singh called the verdict a “gift”.

“The verdict is a gift by the judiciary to our family that has gone through a lot in all these years. I would like to thank the investigating officer, inspector Jagdish Kumar of the SIT, for taking the case to its logical end within three years,” he told PTI.

A case was registered at Vasant Kunj police station in 1993 on the recommendation of Justice J D Jain and D K Aggarwal committee based on the affidavit filed by Santokh Singh on September 9, 1985 before Justice Rangnath Misra Commission and the investigation was conducted by the Anti-Riot Cell of the Delhi Police.

During investigation, the Delhi Police could not gather evidence to prosecute any accused and after investigation, an untraced (closure) report was filed which was accepted by the court on February 9, 1994.

Earlier, the incident was investigated in 1984 and a charge sheet was filed in 1985 against Jai Pal Singh but he was acquitted on December 20, 1986.

“The Delhi Police did not investigate the case properly because they were also involved but it was the SIT that probed the case without any bias. In the last 34 years, there were many times I lost hope and had even tried to kill myself by jumping in a river but somehow I always managed to stage a comeback,” he said.

Santokh Singh, however, rued that in all these years no political party came to his aid and for close to 12 years after the incident, he did not even have money to feed his family and educate his children. He thanked the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee for helping him in all these years.

Santokh Singh said it was in the last week of October that he had celebrated Diwali with his brother, who was brutally killed on November 1, 1984.

“My brother was attacked with iron rods, knife and then thrown from the first floor of the building he had sought refuge at to escape the attackers. The attackers had first looted his shop, burnt it and then followed by brother and others accompanying him,” he said. Santokh said he still shudders to recall that time.

“My two-and-a-half-year-old son was burnt in Cantonment area by some men and we would have lost him, had a doctor not saved him at that time. My son survived that brutal attack but those times were really tragic for me and my family,” he said.

On November 1, 1984, Hardev Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Sangat Singh were present at their grocery shops in Mahipalpur when a violent mob of 800-1,000 people targeted them.

They closed their shops and rushed to the rented accommodation of Surjeet Singh located on the first floor of a house in the area. After some time, they were joined by Avtar Singh, who also took shelter with them. They locked themselves inside the room.

After burning the shops, the mob came to Surjeet’s room and brutally assaulted everyone. They stabbed Hardev and Sangat and threw all the men from the balcony.

The accused poured kerosene in the room and burnt it down. The injured men were shifted to Safdarjung Hospital where Avatar Singh and Hardev Singh died and the other three underwent treatment for grievous injuries.

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