SIT to reopen 75 cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, AAP taunts BJP

New Delhi: The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 could emerge as a major political issue in the run up to the assembly elections in Punjab, even as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday flayed the BJP for waking up to the cause of the riot victims so late.

“Reopen cases now? What did they do in one and half years? BJP set up SIT only to prevent AAP from forming effective SIT,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Sunday.

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The AAP leader’s comments came within hours of the central government ordering that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Union Home Ministry will reopen at least 75 cases related to the anti-Sikh riots that broke out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

As per the norm, the SIT will issue advertisements regarding these cases and ask the victims and witnesses to join the probe, the official source said.

The central government’s decision comes in the wake of representations from the Sikh community, especially the 1984 riot victims, and ahead of the Punjab assembly elections early next year.

Another AAP leader and spokesman Deepak Bajpai also told IANS: “The Centre has woken up so late. It appears the Narendra Modi government has decided to reopen some of the cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots only after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote a letter to the Prime Minister.”

Bajpai alleged that all the commissions and probes till now have been a “failure”, and hoped that “the future trial is also not a sham one”.

“We want time bound trial so that justice could be delivered to the victims who have been waiting for last 32 years,” he said.

Kejriwal had on June 6 written a letter to Prime Minister Modi and had complained that: “The SIT has failed to reopen even a single case. I urge you to either get your SIT to do something or kindly wind up this SIT and allow the Delhi government to set up an SIT for proper investigation and get justice for the victims.”

A total of 3,325 people were killed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states in the riots after Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Delhi alone accounted for 2,733 deaths.

Meanwhile, a BJP leader hinted that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots could figure prominently in the Punjab polls in campaigning against the Congress party, which is out of power in the state for last 10 years.

“The welfare of Sikhs and justice to 1984 riot victims is an issue certainly,” he told IANS on condition of anonymity.

AAP spokesman Deepak Bajpai, however, hoped the “reopening of 75 cases” would not end as a mere “political gimmick”.

“This is a very serious issue. We don’t treat it as a political issue and we dont want politics over it,” he said.

Several Congress leaders, including the likes of late H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, were accused of involvement and complicity in the anti-Sikh carnage.

In May, the Centre had approved increased compensation to 1,020 families hit by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Following recommendation of retired Justice G.P. Mathur committee, set up by the Narendra Modi government in December 2014 to look into various Sikh grievances, the Centre ordered for providing/upgrading skills to members of the affected families by the Skill Development Ministry and the government of Punjab.