First Death Sentence In 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots Case

New Delhi: The Delhi Patiala House Court on Tuesday sentenced Yashpal Singh (55) to death in connection with the killing of two persons in South Delhi’s Mahipalpur during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

Another convict, Naresh Sherawat (68) was awarded life imprisonment. They have also been fined Rs. 35 lakh each. The verdict was pronounced in Tihar Jail due to security concerns. Sherawat worked at the Mahipalpur post office and Yashpal Singh was a transporter.
This was the first conviction in five of the eight cases, reopened and investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted in 2015. 
Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey, held Naresh Sherawat and Yashpal Singh guilty of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh during the riots after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He said that “victims of mass genocide” cannot be left in “the lurch”.

Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the verdict has given Sikhs “a ray of hope”.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also welcomed the move. “Justice has finally been meted out to the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. Hope the others involved in the attacks are also soon brought to book for their horrendous and inhuman acts,” Singh tweeted.

On November 1, 1984, a mob of 800-1,000 armed with iron rods, hockey sticks, stones and kerosene oil attacked Hardev Singh and two others and set their shops on fire. Three of them rushed to friend Surjeet Singh’s home and locked themselves to safety when Avtar Singh joined them.

 The mob, however, found their way in and stabbed Hardev. The rest were thrown out from the balcony and sustained severe injuries. The two later died at Safdargunj Hospital. The case was closed due to lack of evidence.

However, a Special Investigation Team was appointed by the Supreme Court in 2015. The team probed 60 cases of the total 293 cases that were reopened. The team succeeded in getting the conviction in the first case last week. In 52 of those cases, an ‘untraced report’ has been filed while eight cases are being investigated. Chargesheets have been filed in only five of them.

The rest, in which senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar is an accused, are yet to be investigated.

According to official records, over 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguard. The riot not only saw gruesome deaths of many but also ruthless rapes. Many were burnt alive.


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