CBI team in US to record anti-Sikh riot witness’ statement (Lead)

December 23rd, 2008 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) Hope for justice has risen again as a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team on reaching the US has started recording the statement of Jasbir Singh, who claims to be a key witness in a case of 1984 anti-Sikh riots here.”A two-member team headed by a superintendent (of police) is questioning Jasbir Singh in the US,” a CBI spokesman said here Tuesday.

According to agency officials, the team left last week for California after Jasbir Singh refused to come to India to make his statement before a court, citing threat to his life.

The team, which will return later this week, is also expected to question another witness, Surinder Singh, who is based in New York.

Jasbir Singh wants to testify against senior Congress leader and parliamentarian Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 riots, but not in India as he says he fears for his life.

On Sep 29 last year, the CBI had recommended closure of the anti-Sikh riot case against Tytler and Kishan Sharma as no evidence could be found against them.

However, Jasbir Singh, then speaking to Indian media from the US, said the agency had made no efforts to speak to witnesses like him. The CBI told the court he was untraceable, but on Dec 6 last year Jasbir Singh filed an application before the court through his counsel that he was ready to depose as a witness against Tytler.

On Dec 18, the Karkardooma court in Delhi ordered further investigation in the case and directed the CBI to record Jasbir Singh’s statement.

The CBI then insisted that Jasbir Singh “needs to be examined in-depth” in the court here and “is also required to point out the place in Outram Lines area (in Delhi) where he had overheard the accused (Tytler) instigating the mob to kill Sikhs after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi”.

In an affidavit, the agency told the Delhi High Court that it would provide security to Jasbir Singh and bear the cost of his travel expenses if he came to India to depose before the court.

But Jasbir Singh filed a rejoinder in the court, saying he could not come to India to record his statement as his life would be in danger and the court should arrange for video-conferencing to record his statement.

He said the CBI had failed to follow the right procedure for summoning him and was not conducting a fair trial in the case, so as to protect the accused, Tytler.

Most of 2008 was spent in the legal wrangles with Jasbir Singh insisting on giving his statement only in the US and the CBI raising procedural objections to it.

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