CBI clears Tytler in 1984 riots case, Sikhs protest (Second Lead)

April 2nd, 2009 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Congress’ Lok Sabha nominee Jagdish Tytler was Thursday cleared by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, prompting protests by upset Sikhs and raising questions about its timing.
De-sealing its final report in the case in a court here, the CBI pleaded that the case against Tytler, the Congress’ candidate from the Delhi North East constituency, be cancelled.

According to a CBI statement, affidavits in the case by two people, 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, and said Tytler incited a mob to burn a gurdwara and kill Sikhs on Nov 1, 1984. 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, had stated in his affidavit that on Nov 3, 1984, he had overheard Tytler commenting on the killing of Sikhs in his then constituency Sadar Bazar.

“However, the further investigations disclosed a number of inconsistencies and contradictions in the statements of Jasbir Singh and Surender Singh with the other evidence that came up on record. The analysis of all the evidence on record revealed that their statements were inconsistent, unreliable and unworthy of credit,” the CBI statement said.

The victims’ lawyer H.S. Phoolka submitted before the court that he wanted to inspect the final report. After hearing him, the court asked the CBI to give its reply by April 9.

Reacting strongly to the CBI’s clean chit, Phoolka, who has spearheaded one of the longest and most tortuous legal battles to gain justice for the victims of the 1984 riots, said the verdict was “upsetting”.

“Ever since the case went to the CBI, the agency has been eager to give Tytler a clean chit. We will not give up our fight yet,” said Phoolka.

“It is sad to see that even before the seal of the final report was opened, Tytler knew that he had got a clean chit.”

As the CBI decision was made public, hundreds of Sikhs who had gathered outside the court premises protested. They raised slogans against the Congress, the CBI and Tytler as well as other senior Congress leaders like Sajjan Kumar and Kamal Nath for their alleged involvement in the riots.

“It’s a shameful act on the part of CBI and with this our faith in this investigation agency has been shattered. The CBI is working hand in glove with the accused,” said an aggrieved victim outside the court.”

This case was one of the seven cases registered by CBI relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots — in which more than 3,000 people, including 2,000 in Delhi alone, were killed in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984.

The home ministry had taken the decision to hand the investigation to the CBI after examining the Justice Nanavati Commission report submitted in 2005.

The timing of the clean chit - just before the general elections - led the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to question its timing.

“The CBI has once again proven itself to be the Congress Bureau of Investigation. The ruling party has destroyed all institutions such as governor and Election Commission. This is a perfectly politically motivated case and the CBI has lost all its credibiity,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.

Tytler was among the three prominent Congress leaders accused of having incited mobs. The two other leaders named were Sajjan Kumar, who is contesting from South Delhi, and the late H.K.L. Bhagat.

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