Sikhs protest as CBI clears Tytler in 1984 riots case (Roundup)

April 2nd, 2009 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Congress’ riot tainted Lok Sabha nominee Jagdish Tytler was Thursday cleared by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage in Delhi, prompting protests by upset Sikhs and raising questions about its timing.
In its final report in the case to a court here, the CBI pleaded that the case against Tytler, the Congress’ candidate from the Delhi Northeast constituency, be cancelled on grounds that the affidavits by two people - Surender Singh and Jasbir Singh - were inconsistent and contradictory.

In January 2002, Surender Singh stated before the Justice Nanavati Commission probing the riots that Tytler had on Nov 1, 1984, incited a mob to burn a gurdwara and kill Sikhs. This was retracted in August 2002, the CBI said in its statement.

The second witness, California-based Jasbir Singh, who was earlier declared untraceable by the CBI, had stated that on Nov 3, 1984, he had overheard Tytler commenting on the killing of Sikhs in his then constituency Sadar Bazar.

“… 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, who is contesting from the South Delhi constituency, for their alleged involvement in the riots.

“Despite this move by the CBI, we will continue our fight against the accused till our last breath. Our trust in the premier investigating agency is shattered,” said Amrit Singh Lovely, a victim of the riots.

This case was one of the seven cases registered by CBI relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots - in which more than 3,000 people, of them 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,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, labelling it a politically motivated case.

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.

But the Congress, which has battled the charges for 25 years, refused to comment.

Donning the role of party spokesperson, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said: “The CBI has submitted its report. It would not be appropriate to comment on it as the matter is subjudice.”

Tytler, however, was jubilant.

“It is the media which has been keeping the issue alive. I am happy today that truth has prevailed. I will fight the election and I am hundred per cent sure that I will get the votes of all sections of the society.”

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