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Probe panel into '84 anti-Sikh riots diluted facts: Book
October 30, 2007 15:22 IST
Last Updated: October 30, 2007 15:26 IST
A new book on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi claims that the Ranganath Misra Commission which probed the carnage presented a "diluted" version of events and also blames the police for the mass killings.
When a Tree Shook Delhi, written by senior editor Manoj Mitta and advocate for many of the victims' families H S Phoolka, claims to give an "uncensored" insight into the events.
It details incidents, particularly in east Delhi, which show complicity of the police in the rioting that broke out after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi's [Images] assassination on October 31, 1984.
Beginning with the attack on the then president Giani Zail Singh's cavalcade in front of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the book traces the genesis of the violence through eyewitness accounts and the investigations by Phoolka as counsel for the victims.
"Far from booking aggressors, the police cracked down on the victims -- the Sikhs who had been exercising the right of self defence at home," it says.
"The essence of all the findings on the Block 11 events in Kalyanpuri is unmistakable: that the police colluded with a mob to kill members of a minority community," says the book.
On the Ranganath Misra Commission constituted to probe the violence, it says, "Given the circumstances in which it was appointed, the Misra Commission faced a credibility crisis from its very birth. For almost six months, the government had blatantly stonewalled all demands for an inquiry into the carnage."
"The Rajiv Gandhi regime made no bones about the fact that it had appointed the inquiry merely to pave the way for an accord on the long festering Punjab problem," the book goes on to say.
Casting aspersions on the probe held by the Misra Commission, Phoolka says, "Misra had not just shut out the public and the press. Unknown to us, we had also been excluded from crucial parts of the inquiry."
Comparing the situation in Delhi with that in Kolkata, which had also witnessed initial violence against the Sikhs, the book says, "The failure of Delhi authorities to respond to the early signals of trouble contrasted with the alacrity displayed by their counterparts in Kolkata.
Significantly, mob violence broke out in Kolkata even before it did in Delhi. The violence, however, fizzled out in Kolkata because at the first sign of attacks on Sikhs, the local government led by Communists immediately called in the army to restore law and order," it reads.