Shoe-tossing puts spotlight on anti-Sikh riots (Timeline)

April 7th, 2009 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, under the spotlight again after a journalist Tuesday tossed a shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram, were triggered by the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi. Here is a recap:
The Oct 31 assassination - by Gandhi’s two Sikh bodyguards at her residence - was in retaliation to the Operation Bluestar in which the army entered the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, and bombarded the complex to flush out militants who had taken shelter there.

On Nov 1, 1984, mobs attacked Sikhs living in east and central Delhi. Rampage went on for three days, leaving an estimated 3,000 Sikhs dead. Finally, the army had to be called in to bring the situation under control.

A commission was set up in 1985 to probe the matter. Eight committees were also set up later.

Finally, in 2000, the government set up a commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice G.T. Nanavati. It submitted its report February 2004.

The report was made public in 2005 and the government also brought out an action-taken report. It was following the ATR that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started investigations in specific cases.

The Nanavati Commission in its report said there was evidence against Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and H.K.L. Bhagat for instigating crowds to attack Sikhs in Delhi. Then Delhi Police commissioner S.C. Tandon was also held responsible.

A few people have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in the violence, but no one has been given the death sentence.

The report led to widespread protests, forcing Tytler, then NRI affairs minister, to resign Aug 10, 2005.

In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also apologised to the Sikh community.

The CBI closed all cases against Tytler in November 2007 as it submitted a report to a city court that no evidence or witness was found to corroborate the charge that he incited mobs.

But the court on Dec 18, 2007, asked the agency to reopen the case as a US-based witness, Jasbir Singh, told the media that he had overheard Tytler giving instructions to mobs.

In March 2009, the CBI gave a clean chit to Tytler, amid protests from Sikhs and the opposition parties.

The Congress has fielded Tytler to fight Lok Sabha elections from the Delhi Northeast constituency.

On Tuesday, Jarnail Singh, a journalist with the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, tossed a shoe at Chidambaram during a press briefing at the Congress headquarters. He was upset with the CBI’s clean chit to Tytler. The shoe harmlessly sailed by Chidambaram, who smiled as it landed to his right.

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