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1984 riots witnesses rule out returning to India

Dharam Shourie in New York | December 29, 2008 14:12 IST

Two key witnesses in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots have again ruled out returning to India to depose before the courts, but their testimony has been recorded by a visiting two member CBI team in the US.

The CBI team, which recorded the statements of Jasbir Singh and Jasbinder Singh over a period of seven days failed to persuade them to appear before an Indian court, despite guaranteeing their safety, sources said.

The investigators left for India after hearing the two witnesses, who have alleged that former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler played a role in instigating rioters.

The issue of giving testimony by video link too cropped up but both Jasbir and Jasbinder dithered when asked whether they would be prepared to go to the Indian consulates for the purpose, sources said.

About 50 known pro-Khalistan protesters held a demonstration when Jasbir Singh's statement was being recorded in San Francisco. A similar demonstration was organised before the Indian consulate in New York during the recording of statement by Jasbinder Singh.

The sources said it is important for the witnesses to give their testimony before the court as the statements given to CBI do not carry the same weight as one given before a judicial body. Details of the testimonies were not available but the source said the statements are unlikely to have any major disclosure.

 The CBI team was sent to the US after California-based Jasbir Singh repeatedly refused to appear before the Indian courts citing threat to his life and family. The CBI's move to visit the US marks a U-turn from its earlier position demanding the presence of Singh and other witnesses in India.

The agency, which had on September 29, 2007 filed an affidavit in a court here seeking closure of case against Tytler on the plea that Singh was untraceable, was directed by the court to submit the address of Singh, declared as a crucial witness.

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