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'Cong leaders organised anti-Sikh riots'

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | August 08, 2005 17:09 IST
Last Updated: August 08, 2005 18:17 IST

Nearly 21 years after the anti-Sikh riots which broke out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, a Commission appointed to probe the violence said the Congress leaders had organised the looting, arson and killings.

Addressing a press conference, Justice G T Nanavati on Monday said: "Local Congress leaders had a role in the riots. It (riots) was organised. It would not have been possible without the help of the Congress leaders."

"So many people would not have died if the Congress leaders were not involved."

The one-man Nanavati Commission was appointed by the erstwhile National Democratic Alliance government. The Commission's report and the government's action taken report were tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

The Justice Nanavati interview

Some 4,000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi alone in three days of violence. Many were killed in other parts of the country.

The Nanavati report said there was 'credible evidence' against Congress leader and now Minister of Overseas Indians Affairs Jagdish Tytler that he 'very probably' had a hand in the riots. The report recommends further investigations on Tytler and another leader and lawmaker from Delhi Sajjan Kumar.

Nanavati said he had used words like 'very probably' and 'possibly' in indicting Congress leaders because there was little evidence against them. Many witnesses withdrew their stand, many witnesses' statements were not recorded, there were shoddy investigations, many complaints were not filed, and many cases were not properly argued in the court, said Nanavati.

"I have raised suspicion on Tytler because witnesses made their statements against him before the Commission. But there was little evidence to back the allegations. Therefore, I have recommended further investigation. If the government finds it fit, it may order further probe. I don't know the constraints of the government," said Nanavati.

On the action taken report, Nanavati said: "I have no role to play in the action taken report. It is government's jurisdiction. I have recorded the evidence and filed the report."

Also read: Nanavati report finds credible evidence against Tytler, Sajjan

Nanvati said there was an obvious police failure because Sikhs were killed for three days and there was no law and order. He, however, said there was no lapse at the 'highest level.'

Though the Commission has indicted local Congress leaders and raised suspicion on two senior Congress leaders, there seems to be little will in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to take action against them. The ATR of the government has in some way given clean chit to the leaders.

Therefore, the Commission's report remains meaningless.

To this, Nanavati said: "In a democracy, public opinion is very important. The independent commission informs the public about the truth of the event."

"The ATR will go to the Parliament and then to the public. There will be a debate. Let the people decide what is correct."

He said riots cannot be prevented but there could be 'quick action' in containing the riots and better intelligence gathering.

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