1984 probe seems to have been to hush up cases: SIT

1984 Kanpur anti-Sikh riots: 10 months on, SIT yet to begin probe

Of the total 1,254 cases registered in Kanpur during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the SIT has selected 38 cases of heinous crimes of murder and dacoity to further investigate it. (Express Archives)

A Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has castigated the police and administration over their response to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying their “whole role... seems to have been to hush up the criminal cases concerning the riots”.

The Committee, headed by retired Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra, which looked into 199 cases, said that “despite a large number of victims approaching various agencies soon after the riots and for a few years thereafter, still a large number of crimes of murders, rioting, looting, arson remained unfurnished and untraced. The basic reason for these crimes remaining unpunished and culprits getting scot-free was lack of interest shown by the police and by the authorities in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing the culprits”. The committee said in its report that a perusal of the files shows the FIRs were not registered by police incident-wise or crime-wise.

For example, in police station Sultanpuri, the DCP sent 337 complaints for action. “Instead of recording a separate FIR in each, an omnibus FIR was recorded of all 337 incidents... and thereafter all other complaints of killing and rioting were also added to the same FIR...,” said the report. Only one investigating officer was assigned to this case.

The committee concluded that many of those dead during the riots remained unidentified but “the police miserably failed in performing the obligation in either preserving the forensic evidence of the dead bodies or to link the dead bodies with the relatives or to the cases”.

In some cases, police, while filing challan in court, clubbed hundreds or murders and sent all accused together for trial. “Even the judges and magistrates did not give directions to the police to file separate challans incident-wise/crime-wise”. The result was that the trial lingered on.
On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde that the Centre had accepted the report and will be initiating action on the basis of the same.