Ajay Banerjee, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 30. There have been two commissions of enquiry and eight committees to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. In these 28 years, meek efforts of the government to bring the guilty to book have just meandered through a maze of paper work and such toothless enquiries or commissions.
The inaction on the reports of the commissions and the committees stems from futility of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952. It does not give the commissions of inquiry any powers to prescribe punishment (though they can recommend it). The government can ignore their findings and that is what has happened in this case for 28 years. The commissions are like “a dose of homeopathic medicine when immediate surgery was needed”, says a senior police man who has served in Delhi.
Such has been the attitude that for the first two years, no account of the dead was carried out. The Ranganath Mishra commission – the first one set up to probe the riots — was given names, addresses and complete details of 3,870 people killed in Delhi. But police said 1,419 were killed. Cases of only these people were registered. The Delhi government filed a list of 2,300 people killed. A separate committee later established that 2,773 people died in Delhi alone.
In 2009, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram admitted in an interview to a news channel that Sikhs had a “legitimate grievance”. Jarnail Singh, author of the book “I Accuse… the Anti-Sikh Violence of 1984″ says: “We seek justice. Bring the guilty to book”.
In 2005, the GT Nanavati Commission indicted Jagdish Tytler, he resigned from his post as Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs. The government asked CBI to re-investigate the cases.
The Nanavati Commission found that there was a colossal failure in maintenance of law and order in Delhi during the riots. It expressed dissatisfaction with the then Lt. Governor P.G. Gavai and the then Police Commissioner, S C Tandon. The latter said the commission, did not take strict action against the defaulting police officers nor did he give them directions to be strict with the marauding mobs.
The Nanavati Commission also touched upon the delay in deploying the Army in the Capital on October 31 itself. So who delayed the deployment? The Lt Governor of Delhi has the powers to deploy the Army in such circumstances, without waiting for the political clearance. The then LG, P G Gavai claimed he gave the go-ahead to the Police Commissioner SC Tandon on the morning of November 1. The riots started the same day. The Delhi Police is directly under the Central government.
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