December 11, 2004 | Comments Off
A City Court in New Delhi sentenced nine people to three years in prison for looting a shop during the 1984 pogroms of Sikhs that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Sardar Inder Singh Grover and his wife Prakash Kaur came to the capital as refugees in 1947. After years of struggle he managed to set up two crockery shops in the city.
But 1984 saw the two shops being looted in the anti-Sikh riots and occupied. The occupants, alleged Grover, threatened to kill them if they returned to the shop Azad Market near Bara Hindu Rao. This did not deter the now 72-year-old-Inder Grover. After twenty years of fighting to get justice, the nine accused in the case were finally sentenced to three years imprisonment on Thursday last by a sessions court.
After running from pillar to post, it was on the recommendation of the Jain-Aggarwal Committee that an FIR was lodged in 1993 and the trial started. What kept the couple going through all these years, says Singh, was their attitude: ‘‘We have never accepted defeat in any situation….
The court directed that the two shops which have been occupied by the accused for all these years, be returned to the couple. Despite this, the couple said: ‘‘Although we are happy with the court decision, it is unlikely that we shall be going back there.’’ They say they have still been receiving threats from the locals there.
This action is a tiny step in providing justice to the survivors of the 1984 massacres. On the 20th anniversary of the pogroms this year, leading human rights groups issued statements highlighting the impunity granted to perpetrators of the massacres.
ENSAAF’s report Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India discusses the magnitude of the crimes and how grave lapses in police investigations, delays in filing cases, the failure to identify and investigate prosecution witnesses, the deliberate misrecording of witness statements, and the failure to comply with legal procedures precluded effective prosecutions against major perpetrators.