Riots case witness against Tytler ready to testify from US

By Parveen Chopra, IANS

New York : A crucial witness, who has earlier testified against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, has offered to depose further from the US.

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Reacting to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) giving a clean chit to Tytler, MP and former union minister, on the ground of non-availability of witnesses, Jasbir Singh, now living in California , told IANS, “CBI could have easily traced me through my family in Delhi, but they chose not to.”

Speaking in Punjabi on the phone, Singh said he has not backed out of testifying against Tytler “what I had seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears”, and which he has put down in a fresh affidavit of Oct 25.

According to this affidavit, attested by a Notary Public of Alameda County in California, Tytler incited his supporters on Nov 3, 1984 by saying, “I had promised large scale killing of Sikhs and sought full protection, but you have betrayed and let me down.”

Tytler, Singh alleges, went on to cite larger number of killings of Sikhs in the Delhi parliamentary constituencies of Sajjan Kumar – against whom too a case is pending – and H.K.L. Bhagat, since deceased.

Jasbir Singh claims he gave affidavits implicating Tytler as “one of the leading conspirator and mastermind of 1984 Sikhs massacre” to the Jain Aggarwal Committee and the Nanavati Commission, set up by the government to look into the carnage that followed former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination that took an estimated 3,000 lives.

Singh wishes to inform the CBI and the court, which has instructed the CBI to further probe the case against Tytler and file a reply by Nov 29, that he is ready to testify through his New York-based attorney, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

He is not willing, however, to travel to India because of what he calls the seriousness of threats to his life from Tytler’s supporters pressing him to recant. The threats, he said, forced him to flee India and seek political asylum in the US in 2002, which has been granted recently.

The 41-year-old now works as a truck driver and is trying to get his family – wife and four children living in Tilak Vihar in West Delhi – over to the US because he is worried about their safety.

According to Singh’s story, he is a victim and survivor of 1984. He lived at the time in Jasjit Nagar, Seelampur, in the trans-Yamuna area which was the worst hit by the riots. He cut his hair and escaped to Kingsway Camp, where he came across Tytler making his inflammatory speech.

In India, Jasbir Singh has named the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) to speak on his behalf to the media. The AISSF has released a statement lashing out at the CBI for their failure to take into account the affidavit of Singh, supposedly untraceable.

The AISSF plans to observe Nov 5 as a ‘black day’ in New Delhi and to present a memorandum to the president and prime minister of India, demanding justice for the 1984 riots victims and a fair and open inquiry to bring the riots’ perpetrators to book.