New Delhi: A Delhi court Tuesday awarded death penalty to convict Yashpal Singh and life imprisonment to Naresh Sherawat for killing two men in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey pronounced the verdict in the Tihar Jail due to security concerns and attack on the convicts on the premises of the Delhi court. Also Read - Nirbhaya Case: After Delhi Court, Now NHRC Dismisses Plea Seeking Stay on Execution of Convicts
“The common objective of the unlawful assembly, among others, was to murder people of the Sikh community, which is clear from the slogans raised by its leaders and the manner in which the members carried out its objective,” Pandey said, while delivering the judgement. (Also Read: 1984 anti-Sikh riots: Witness Identifies Sajjan Kumar) Also Read - Court Directs Delhi Police to File Status Report on Probe Into Jamia Millia Islamia Violence
Last week, the court had convicted Sherawat and Yashpal Singh for murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons. Also Read - Hope Convicts Will be Executed on March 3, Says Nirbhaya’s Mother as Court Issues Death Warrant
Sherawat and Yashpal Singh were accused of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of south Delhi during the riots that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
On a complaint by the victim’s brother Santokh Singh, the police lodged a case. But in 1994, the police wanted to close the case citing lack of evidence. The case was reopened by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Leaders Welcome The Landmark Judgement
Welcoming the judgement, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said,”I do hope now that the other 8 pending cases are also taken up by courts and disposed of without any further delay.”
Sikh leaders cutting across party lines have welcomed the court’s decision and vowed to continue their fight till each and every victim gets justice. Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said they will challenge the life sentence of Sherawat and ensure that even he gets “hanged for his crimes”.
“We are satisfied with the judgement but we will keep on fighting and challenge the life sentence of one accused and ensure that even he gets “hanged for his crimes,” he told PTI.
He also said that the judgement has given witnesses a very big boost and after 34 years they finally got justice.
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief and Akali Dal leader Manjit Singh G K said the judgement will encourage other victims to come forward. “Other culprits who were hiding behind the Z plus security would be nailed down,” he said.
Sardar R P Singh, National Secretary of BJP, welcomed the decision and urged the apex court to immediately notify the name of third member of the Special Investigation Team formed to monitor further probe into anti-Sikh riots cases of 1984 mainly in Delhi and other states.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader HS Phoolka said it was a great judgement and now the Sikh leaders are quite hopeful that in other cases also the victims would get justice.
A Sikh survivor called the judgement “a start”, saying the fight will continue till they get “complete justice” and bring all perpetuators to justice.
On the other hand, Congress Rajya Sabha MP and noted advocate KTS Tulsi expressed hope that Congress leader Sajjan Kumar would get the death sentence for his role in 1984 Sikh riots case.
About the anti-Sikh riots
About 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India, including 2,100 in Delhi, during the clash that broke out after then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
Of the 650 cases registered in connection with anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these 267 cases, five were later taken up by the CBI. The SIT also scrutinised the records of 18 cancelled cases.
The SIT found 60 cases appropriate for further investigation. It filed “untraced report” in 52 cases in the last one-and-a-half years.