Hearing on Tytler postponed, Sikhs hold protests (Second Lead)

April 9th, 2009 - 4:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) A court Thursday postponed till April 28 a hearing involving Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in a case relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh violence while thousands of Sikhs held protests outside the court.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has filed its closure report in the case last week giving a clean chit to Tytler, argued before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Rakesh Pandit that the court did not have the power to try the case as it involved charges under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), that is, murder. Only a sessions court can try a case of murder.

The court summoned the video CD of statements by two witnesses, made before the CBI in the US earlier this year, and adjourned the proceedings to April 28-29. The magistrate said he would hear both sides on those two days before taking a decision on the matter.

Tytler, a former central minister, has been nominated by the Congress as Lok Sabha poll candidate from Northeast Delhi. The clean chit has sparked off widespread protests by members of the Sikh community in Delhi and Punjab.

Ahead of Thursday’s court proceedings, protesters gathered outside the Karkardooma court in east Delhi. Burning effigies and shouting slogans against Tytler, they demanded harsh punishment for those guilty of the mayhem in which 3,000 people, including over 2,000 in Delhi alone, were killed.

As police tried to stop her, a woman tried to climb over the barricades and storm the complex.

“The perpetrators of the riots who have incited the mob should be brought to book. The court is our last hope. If the court gives a decision, it is good; if it does not, our confidence in Indian democracy will be shaken,” said one of the agitators.

“Tytler should be locked up and if the court sentences him to death, he should be hanged. We want justice for the victims of 1984 riots,” added another.

An elderly Sikh said: “We are sure that justice will be served. But the Congress decision to give Sajjan Kumar and Tytler tickets is outrageous. Congress must pay heavy price for supporting Tytler and (Sajjan) Kumar.”

Reacting to the situation, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: “By evening, the decision (on whether Tytler will continue to be the Congress nominee in northeast Delhi) will be taken by the Congress party.”

On April 2, de-sealing its final report in the case in the court, the CBI pleaded that the case against Tytler be closed.

On April 28-29, the court may decide on accepting the CBI closure report against Tytler and ordering the quashing of charges against him or order fresh investigation into the case.

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, 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, 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.

This was one of the seven cases registered by CBI relating to the anti-Sikh riots that took place in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards Oct 31, 1984.

Tytler was among the three prominent Congress leaders accused of having incited mobs against the Sikhs in 1984. The other two were Sajjan Kumar, the candidate from South Delhi, and the late H.K.L. Bhagat.

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