Community Betrayed

Compiled by JP. Sikh Sangat News, Jan 1, 2007

Time is a great healer, they say. While the individual sufferers of carnage against Sikhs in 1984 picked up threads of their lives and carried on, the wounds on the collective consciousness of Sikh community are still festering. To see perpetrators of those wounds going not only scot-free but continue to occupy important positions did not help in the healing in any way. Now come the revelations that the community's own were indulging in behind the scenes machinations that ultimately shamed the justice.

It's sad to see no outrage, not even within the community when investigations by the weekly Tehelka has mentioned specific names, putting under cloud the Sikh leadership.

It seems, though the time has not been able to heal the wounds, but it certainly has made it easier for us to turn our faces the other way. This is what has happened after the report came in. There have not even been murmurs.

Report after report from impeccable credentials named Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler among others as those who led the massacres of Sikhs after the assassination of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi in November 1984. After much hue and cry enquiries were instituted. The long drawn out investigations came to naught ultimately. The Allurements and intimidations saw witnesses turning hostile one by one. Neither the protectors nor the adjudicators found anything amiss.

The lesser mortals were tired out and the fight to seek justice remained to be led by few. To rightly acknowledge the role of those who have been putting up this fight we have to seek out those who have been responsible in making justice elusive. We have some of those names now. There is damning evidence against them. Rs 25 lakh was offered to Darshan Kaur who lost 12 members of her family, including her husband, to withdraw her testimony against Congress leader HKL Bhagat. She was offered the money by local Sikh leader and former DSGMC member, Atma Singh Lubhana, a man who had actually been authorised by the Shaheedgunj Gurdwara Committee to help the Tilak Vihar widows with their court cases.

Surinder Singh, the head granthi of Gurdwara Pulbangash in New Delhi, the prime witness in case against Jagdish Tytler, went abroad for a year, a week after changing his statement. Prahalad Singh Chandok, then president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) is named as the one who pressurized the witnesses to say Tytler didn't lead the mob. Chandok even presented a robe of honour to Tytler, for which the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, summoned him but the Takht Jathedar didn't impose a penalty. Another key witness, Satnami Bai when questioned about changing her statement swore by Guru Granth Sahib in the presence of widows and riot victims that it was Atma Singh Lubhana who was instrumental in her turning hostile.

While Sikh leaders like Lubhana and Chandok were instrumental in behind the scene machinations, there were Sikhs who actually voted for Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler. In fact, both the leaders have been flaunting their Sikh supporters as trophies. While we are talking of a community here, we have to keep us reminded that we are dealing with humans actually, with all their frailties and weaknesses. The community will continue to have individuals who actually sell off its interests. What's more important is how the community responds to this and ensures that this does not happen.

Jagdish Tytler : A Changed Testimony

Surinder Singh, the head granthi of Gurdwara Pulbangash, said in a sworn affidavit in January 2002 that Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, then the local MP, led the mob that had attacked his gurdwara. He stated, "Tytler incited the mob to burn the gurdwara and kill the Sikhs." According to his evidence, the mob had then attacked and burnt the gurdwara down. One Badal Singh was burnt alive in the assault, several were injured.

By the time, the Nanavati Commission summoned Jagdish Tytler on the complaint, Surinder Singh had been 'managed'. Tytler drew the Commission's attention to another affidavit by Singh, this one dated August 5, 2002, which amounted to a retraction of Singh's earlier position - he said he did not even know what was in the earlier affidavit because he could not read or write English.

He also said he had not seen Tytler leading the mob that attacked Gurdwara Pulbangash.

This affidavit was filed on October 22, 2002 and it came to light a year later when Tytler was served a notice to appear before the Commission. The Congress leader's knowledge of such an affidavit astonished the Commission as Surinder Singh had named Tytler in his testimony on January 17, 2002.

Tytler had been trying to work on Surinder Singh. In his testimony to the Nanavati Commission, Surinder Singh did state that he was contacted by Jagdish Tytler on November 10, 1984 and asked to sign two sheets of paper. He declined to sign. But subsequent efforts by Tytler to 'win over' Singh appear to have succeeded.

About Surinder Singh's changed affidavit, Justice Nanavati stated, "what appears from all this is that the subsequent affidavit was probably obtained by persuasion or under pressure. If this witness had really not seen Jagdish Tytler in the mob or if he was not approached by Tytler then he would not have come before the Commission to give evidence or would have told the Commission that the attack did not take place in that manner. For speaking the truth, it was not necessary for him to wait till 5-8-2002 and file an additional affidavit." After these findings, our team began investigations and tried to contact Surinder Singh.

We were misled by Surinder Singh's family about his whereabouts. Two attempts were made to contact him at his residence in the Gurdwara Rakabganj family quarters but the family refused to open the door. The nameplate outside his quarters was also removed. Contact was established with his son Narinder Singh, who fixed a meeting with Surinder Singh. But then, the two vanished. Using a fake reference, contact was established with Surinder Singh and another rendezvous was set but he again failed to turn up.

This was provocation enough for detailed investigations. Enquiries revealed that Surinder Singh left for Canada, 10 days after filing his subsequent affidavit. Being an employee of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Surinder Singh had sought a year's leave, that too without pay, from October 30, 2002 to October 29, 2003. On his return, DSGMC president Prahlad Singh Chandok posted him in a prestigious gurdwara. Surinder Singh draws a mere salary but owns a luxury car and is constructing a house near Majnu Ka Tilla in North Delhi.

After a lapse of two years, the DSGMC sought Surinder Singh's explanation for changing his statement against Tytler. The then DSGMC chief Chandok clandestinely issued a suspension order but held onto it. Curiously, three days after filing the previous order, another DSGMC office-bearer, Harbhajan Singh Matharu, sought an explanation from Surinder Singh on March 20, 2004.

Sikh Mass Killer Jagdish Tytler with former DSGMC President Prahlad Singh Chandok at a function where Tytler was honored with a Siropa.

In his reply on March 23, 2004, Surinder Singh speaks of a threat to his life. Tehelka has a copy of his reply, which says, "if you seek an explanation from me, then I be given a guarantee that we, Management Committee, would be responsible for loss of my life and property, only then will I give an explanation." Two months after this episode, Chandok presented a robe of honour to Tytler.

For this act, the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, summoned Chandok but the Takht Jathedar didn't impose a penalty.

The Sikh Forum - which then had the late Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora as its chief patron - sought a meeting with Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti as it resented the lack of action against Chandok. In its letter to Vedanti dated August 2, 2004, the Sikh Forum stated that some witnesses who had filed affidavits before the Nanavati Commission are now reluctant to appear for cross-examination. The Forum sought a clarification on the Jathedar's order, as Chandok's exoneration had created an impression that no wrong was committed by honoring Tytler. The Forum stated that Tytler, now summoned by the Nanavati Commission, had a role in the 1984 carnage and this decision has aggrieved the riot victims. In another letter dated September 22, 2004, the Sikh Forum sought a review of the decision exonerating Chandok. It further requested the Akal Takht that Chandok be summoned again and directed to snap all ties with people guilty in the Sikh carnage.

The Forum's members included Dr Amrik Singh, Major General MS Chadha, Dr Anup Singh, Lieutenant Colonel Manohar Singh, advocate HS Phoolka, Wing Commander RS Chhatwal, Dr Mahip Singh and Dr AS Narang among others.

After the Nanavati report was tabled in Parliament, the Sikh Forum met on August 12, 2005. We accessed the meeting's confidential record which accused Chandok of pressurizing witnesses. According to the minutes of the meeting, "Sardar Prahlad Singh Chandok had honored Jagdish Tytler, For this act he was called by Jathedar Akal Takht. But on intervention of some influential persons, he was not given any punishment. But now for his role in pressurizing Bhai Surinder Singh to change his affidavit against Jagdish Tytler, we should take up this case with Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib."

We spoke to the Sikh Forum which appeared reluctant to state the facts openly. This forced us to use the spycam and it was revealed that this group had confronted Chandok and Surinder about the subsequent affidavit. The details of this meeting were recorded by the Forum. Wg Cdr Chhatwal shared the Forum's strategy about taking action against them. The conversation has been edited and the operative part goes:

What action will you take against Chandok?
It will be a religious action without going to the press and we will write to Akal Takht that he is treacherous fellow and is instrumental in seeing that Jagdish Tytler is not blamed. Akal Takht should haul him up.

What will you write to Akal Takht? That he struck a deal?
I do not know whether we will write this thing.

Then what exactly will you write?
This has not been decided as yet.

Why was Chandok not summoned earlier if he turned treacherous, why no action was taken against him?
This is not the first instance, first Babbar did it and then Atma did it. Now we will confront him.

When you questioned Chandok did his body language give an impression that?
Yes, that he has pressurised Surinder Singh to change his statement.

And what about Surinder Singh?
He does not deserve to be a head granthi, he has changed his statement and now he is running away. He succumbed to the pressure.

Pressure or allurements?
It is one and the same thing.

Were some recordings made in the confidential sheets?
Yes, a part of it has been done, we can only build up the moral pressure and can't do anything legally.

When had you asked Chandok about this issue?
This was a week after Tytler had appeared before the Nanavati Commission and he talked about Surinder Singh's changed affidavit.

This affidavit was filed on October 22, we were all surprised about it and then we asked Chandok about this.

Further, Nanavati report mentions the affidavit filed by another witness Jasbir Singh. Jasbir, who had seen Jagdish Tytler on November 3, 1984, stated, "He (Tytler) rebuked the persons forming the group that his instructions have not been faithfully carried out. His position has been greatly compromised and lowered in the eyes of Central leaders. There has been an only nominal killing in his constituency compared to East Delhi, Outer Delhi, Cantt etc. How he would be able to stake claims in future? I had promised large scale killing of Sikhs and sought full protection but you have betrayed and let me down and he left in a huff."

Our investigations revealed that Jasbir Singh was threatened and his family is living incognito and in constant fear. Speaking to us, Jasbir's mother-in-law Gurdeep Kaur stated that he went abroad (USA) because of the constant threats. Jasbir had confided in her about being waylaid by some people near Peeragarhi. Anticipating danger, she pleaded not to disclose the whereabouts of Jasbir's wife and son. Jasbir's wife remained mum throughout and was very protective of her son.

Gurdeep Kaur added that she was offered a bag full of notes to change her statement but she refused. More than 50 persons of her clan were killed during the carnage. She had testified against councillor Dr Ashok and some supporters of HKL Bhagat.

HKL Bhagat : A Witness Won Over

During the anti-Sikh violence, the largest number of killings took place in Bhagat's East Delhi constituency. One witness, Satnami Bai, said Bhagat had led the rioters. Later on, she turned hostile and failed to identify him. Another witness, Darshan Kaur, stuck to her deposition despite threats to her life and identified Bhagat. But the case collapsed in 1995 and Bhagat was acquitted on the ground that in a riot case, conviction cannot be based on the word of just one witness. Enquiries revealed that local Sikh leader and former DSGMC member Atma Singh Lubhana had struck a deal with Satnami Bai to change her statement. According to confidential documents of the Lubhana community, this deal was struck for Rs 12 lakh.

Darshan Kaur told that Atma Singh Lubhana had offered her Rs 25 lakh to turn hostile and on her refusal was thrashed by him. For beating up Kaur, Lubhana was summoned by the Akal Takht on September 14, 1998. Takht Jathedar Ranjit Singh, after considering the apology tendered by Lubhana, had pronounced religious punishment. Darshan Kaur stated that he had threatened to burn her alive in Tilak Vihar. Earlier also, she was waylaid by some unidentified people and threatened. She had earlier told our team that she was offered Rs 25 lakh in hard cash but she had sought the payment by cheque so as to expose them.

According to a letter dated December 4, 1996, by Mohan Singh, president of the All-India Lubhana Sikh Sanstha to 'mukhias' of the Lubhana panchayats, "on November 17, 1996 a panchayat was organised at Gurdwara Shaheedgunj, Tilak Vihar, wherein Satnami Bai was questioned about changing her statement. In the presence of widows and riot victims, Satnami Bai swore by Guru Granth Sahib that it was Atma Singh Lubhana who was instrumental in her turning hostile. Satnami stated that a deal was struck for Rs 12 lakh and the rest is known to Atma Singh." After this Lubhana was summoned by the panchayat but he failed to appear and was ostracized from the Lubhana community (Nikaali- Roti Beti ka rishta Khatam).

On December 2, 1996, Lubhana appeared before the panchayat and agreed to abide by its decision. The panchayat decided to continue with the boycott of Lubhana and a five-member committee was formed to inquire into this episode. The members included Inder Singh, Mohan Singh, Bhai Mohan Singh, Hari Singh and Babu Singh Dukhia. Subsequently, it was decided to summon a Sarva Panchayat to take a final decision on Lubhana. This Sarva Panchayat or Chauraasi Maha Panchayat gathered at Gurdwara Shaheedgunj on April 25, 1999 and included mukhias and panches of 84 villages of north India of the Lubhana community.

According to Babu Singh Dukhia, now president of the Shaheedgunj Gurdwara, Atma Singh Lubhana had confessed to his crime before the maha panchayat and was asked to pay a fine of Rs 5.28 lakh. This was recorded in the panchayat register and Lubhana had also signed it. A written undertaking by Dukhia revealed that Satnami Bai had also confessed before the panches that Atma Singh had deposited money in her Tilak Nagar postal account. All panches agreed that due to his lust for money, Lubhana had influenced Satnami to change her statement and had turned a traitor. Babu Singh Dukhia had recorded his dissenting note about pardoning after payment of Rs 5.28 lakh fine. Thereafter, this document was sealed and it was decided that it would not be made public.

When confronted, Lubhana admitted to paying the fine. He stated that the penalty was paid in instalments and spent on renovating various gurdwaras. As desired by the panchayat, he had also agreed to follow their directive. But he was evasive about the reasons behind his boycott and denied being instrumental in Satnami Bai turning hostile. "I had not committed any crime but had to put my signatures as everyone persuaded me to settle the matter once and for all." Caught out, Lubhana denied threatening or offering any money to Darshan Kaur or Anwar Kaur but admitted to being summoned by the Akal Takht.

Our team captured Satnami on spycam wherein she admitted to changing her statement because of threats to her life but denied receiving money. She also stated that Congress MP HKL Bhagat led the mobs and his wife was also present. The conversation has been edited and the operative part goes:

Where were you living during the riots?

What all did you see?
Yes, I saw all of it, small kids between10-11 years killed before me.

Your husband was also killed?
Yes, they hit him with a stick, thrashed him, poured kerosene, powder and then burnt him alive. Many of the Sikhs were dragged by their hair, white powder sprinkled on them and burnt alive, in pain the Sikhs would scream, and rioters comment, 'Sardars are dancing', I saw all this. It has been 21 years of pain and now government has given them clean chit. In front of my house, four children were killed, first they were hit with sticks, their teeth came out, a rioter said Saala Zinda Hai and then they stabbed him.

Do you know the people who indulged in killings?
Some were outsiders and some neighbors. Some Jats and Gujjars.

Can you tell us the number of people in the mob?
They came in numbers armed with sticks, powder, cycle tires which were put around the necks of many men, poured oil and powder...and petrol and burnt them...tied their judas (hair tied in a bun) and burnt them.

A common man would not indulge in this unless he is incited by somebody from top. Did anyone instigate the rioters?
The killers were all Congress people, how could the justice be done with Congress in power, they were HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Tytler, Shastri, Sharma and many others, these were the main people who incited the mob.

Who were the people who led the mob in your area, in Trilokpuri?
HKL Bhagat.

Was he leading the mob?
Yes, he was leading the mob

Did you see him yourself?
Yes, in front of my house there was a Muslim woman, his godsister, Bhagat used to come every Sunday to meet her.

So, the mob was led by HKL Bhagat?
Yes, both husband and wife were leading the mob. They came in a vehicle and directed to eliminate all the Sikhs.

This was his area?
Yes, Trilokpuri was his area and he was leading the mob. HKL Bhagat said these are sons of snake, kill them all.

So, you heard it at that time?
Not only did I hear it, I saw it with my own eyes.

So he instructed to kill.
There were two blocks, 32 and block number 31, there was a house of a Muslim woman. He came from block number 31, he came from his sister's house and then said, kill all the Sardars, he said none should be spared

You had also given an affidavit about these incidents?
I had given all the papers but the police never recorded my statement, we were told to go back to our houses.

So did you testify before the court?
Yes, I was a witness and made a statement in the court and in Nanavati Commission as well.

Was there a threat to your life?
Many widows were waylaid and forced to change their statements.

Did it happen with you?
Yes, HKL Bhagat's goons threatened me that if I do not change my statement, my brothers and children would be killed; we were already living in extreme fear, it could happen again, so I had to succumb.

The people of HKL Bhagat threatened you that if you do not change your statement, they will kill your people?
Yes, they said so; my parents were living with me.

What exactly did they say, was money also offered?
Your brother and children would be killed, if I do not change my statement but no money was offered.

Did you lodge a complaint with police?
Nobody heard us.

HKL Bhagat

Can Rs 25 lakh bring back the 12 family members whom she lost to the 1984 carnage? Can it bring back even one? Then what good is it, says Darshan Kaur.

Many witnesses turned hostile one after the other, but Darshan Kaur who lost 12 members of her family, including her husband, refused to fall for the lure of money or surrender to the fear of death. In a chilling confession, she tells that she had been offered Rs 25 lakh to withdraw her testimony against Congress leader HKL Bhagat. She was offered the money by local Sikh leader, Atma Singh Lubhana, a man who had actually been authorised by the Shaheedgunj Gurdwara Committee to help the Tilak Vihar widows with their court cases. Tilak Vihar in West Delhi is one of the largest colonies that houses the victims of Carnage 1984.

Darshan moved from East Delhi's Trilokpuri to Raghubir Nagar, Tilak Vihar where she lives under round-the-clock police protection.

Excerpts from the conversation:

During the trials many witnesses were threatened and some turned hostile after accepting money. Could you tell us about your case? We are told that Atma Singh Lubhana offered you money to change your testimony?
At that time we used to live in Trilokpuri and HKL Bhagat was the local MP. I was a witness against him. We had no educated people guiding us about court appearances and no menfolk were spared during the riots. Lubhana appeared on the scene after the riots. None of his family members were killed during the riots. This man used to cycle around then and he now moves in cars whereas we don't even have a bicycle. Since there were no educated people among us, it was decided in the Shaheedgunj Gurdwara to hand over all these representations to him. Lubhana would accompany all the widows to the Karkardooma courts. When HKL Bhagat came to know of this, he decided to strike a deal with him. Lubhana was instructed to offer money to widows to change their statements. Some of them did but I don't want to name any of them.

Please give us the details, be frank.
Some widows accepted the money and turned hostile. I neither accepted money nor changed my statement. I lost 12 of my family members and asked them to bring back at least one. I rejected Lubhana's offer and then started the process of threats. He attacked me also. Bhagat also engineered attacks against me.

Was the attack at the instance of Bhagat?
Once on my way back, when I had no security, five-six people in a Maruti car waylaid me. They first made enquiries about some address and then tried pulling me inside the car. I started crying and tried to save myself by slapping them and hitting them with my chappals. A traffic constable and some other people came to my rescue and they fled away. After some time, police protection was given to me. This protection is with me for the last 12 years.

Did Atma Singh Lubhana offer you money?
Lubhana had offered me Rs 25 lakh to change my testimony. He asked me to accept the money and withdraw the case against Bhagat. He said, with this money your generations will live comfortably so why take such trouble. On my refusal, he started abusing me and physically attacked me.

Why did Atma Singh Lubhana beat you up?
He wanted me to accept the money and withdraw from the case. He did not want me to appear as a witness against HKL Bhagat.

That means he asked you to accept Rs 25 lakh and not appear against HKL Bhagat?
Yes, he asked me not to appear as a witness against HKL Bhagat. He said, take Rs 25 lakh and your children and grandchildren will live comfortably. And if you don't then you will keep running around. He said, either he (Bhagat) or I will kill you. These threats continued and I challenged him to touch me. I am not afraid. I will not retract from my testimony. I told Lubhana to bring back at least one member of my family. Twelve of my family members were killed. Provoked by this, he attacked me.

Is Lubhana still threatening you?
Yes, even now, he is after my life, he threatened me over the phone. He said he would burn me alive. I told him that I am not afraid of any threats. I challenged him to touch me. He put the phone down and then some women called up and issued threats.

Who were these women?
I don't know the names of those women who threatened me but I informed the police authorities.

We are told that he gave money to other witnesses also?
He had sold off Anwar Kaur who had initially testified against Sajjan Kumar. When Sajjan Kumar won the election he had gone to congratulate him. Many other Sikhs had accompanied him.

How do you know that Anwar had taken money through Lubhana?
We had invited Anwar Kaur to join our group of widows and then she narrated it to us. After Sajjan Kumar was acquitted, we took out protest processions and then went to the gurdwara where we called Anwar. We asked her why she had turned hostile when we could have got justice for so many of our brothers who had been murdered. We asked her who had incited her and then she told us that it was Atma Singh Lubhana who did all this.

What did she tell you?
She stated that Lubhana had taken her to Sajjan Kumar's residence. She did not tell us about the money she got but she said Lubhana had struck the deal. She said she got scared and changed her statement.

Can you tell us when exactly she confessed to you and the others?
This was four-five years ago, when Sajjan Kumar was acquitted. It is then that all the widows confronted Anwar Kaur. She sought forgiveness. In the case of another widow, Satnami Bai, Lubhana signed in a register when a panchayat was organized and admitted that he was instrumental in Satnami turning hostile. He was asked to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh for working against the Sikh Panth, which he did.

Justice Nanavati has let off Bhagat on humanitarian grounds as he is bedridden. What do you have to say on this?
HKL Bhagat should be hanged, even if he is sick. He deserves no mercy as he is a murderer. I had seen him leading the mobs saying, 'kill all the Sardars, they are snakes'.

Bhagat died in a hospital after prolonged illness and he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Sajjan Kumar: With Help From The Police

Justice Nanavati recommended that all the seven cases against Sajjan Kumar, including FIR No 307/94, be reinvestigated. This particular FIR had been lodged on the basis of an affidavit filed before the Ranganath Mishra Commission of Inquiry by a widow, Anek Kaur, in 1985. In the affidavit, she gave graphic details of how Sajjan Kumar, other Congress leaders and the police had turned murderous that day. Her house, she said, was surrounded by a mob led by Congress leader Jai Singh. The police were inciting the mob to kill Sardars and burn their houses. She also stated that Sajjan Kumar and another Congress leader Jai Kishan had come in a jeep and when she had run up to them for protection, Jai Kishan had said that only six Sardars were left and that he would get them killed. Sajjan Kumar had also stated that they should be beaten to death. Anek's husband Vakil Singh was beaten and left for dead - he died three months later. Based on this and other evidence, Nanavati recommended a re-investigation but the government in its Action Taken Report, denied the allegation and said that Anek Kaur had subsequently (in 1994) withdrawn her statement against Sajjan Kumar. Thus, the government felt that since there was no fresh evidence, it would not be just to reopen the case.

While the government found no justification to reopen the case, our investigations revealed that witness Anek Kaur was won over and her statement changed.

We traced out her family as Anek Kaur died about four years ago. Her mother-in-law Sahibzadi disclosed that one Rathi had obtained Anek Kaur's thumb impression on a paper and used to buy rations for them regularly. Vakil Singh's sister Mishri Kaur, who used to accompany Anek Kaur, told us that Sajjan Kumar had offered them a flat to change Anek's statement. Another offer was made by Sajjan Kumar that he would sponsor their expenses for as long as they live in lieu of a changed statement. The family was paid for about two years. This entire conversation was captured on a spycam. The edited conversation goes:

What had Sajjan Kumar asked Anek Kaur, can you share that with us?
Gawahi badal do, poora kharcha milega, muawza milega aur flat dilwa doonga (You will get a flat as well as compensation, just get Anek Kaur's statement changed).

Did this happen before your eyes?
Yes. This was in my presence, kehta tha, byan badal do, jab tak zinda rahoge, poori zindagi ka kharcha doonga, ek do saal diya bhee bus uske baad nahin (He said he'll take care of all expenses as long as we lived, he gave money for about one or two years then stopped)

What happened after that?
Then Rathi came in the picture, Rathi, Inspector Rathi, would accompany Anek to the court, would also bring his vehicle. He used to give Rs 200 every month and in addition also hand over Rs 50 to Rs 100. Jai Kishan, the local MLA, had also given Rs 1,200.

And then?
Paisa Rathi kha gaya (Rathi took away all the money), usne Anek se angootha lagwa liya (Rathi had taken Anek's thumb impression on a paper). I had complained against Rathi to the court and headquarter.

Did you not approach Sajjan Kumar for the promised flat and the money?
Yes, twice I had gone to him but he refused to speak to me, baad mein aana (come later), I was thrown out of his place. This was some time around the last elections.

What happened to Anek Kaur?
She was sick and died about four years ago. Before her death she told me and her daughter as well that take money from Sajjan or else depose against him, take it that he is the murderer of your parents.

So she changed her statement?
She did not change her statement but Rathi took her thumb impression and gave her only Rs 200.

That the government was on the side of the guilty is also clear from another case. According to the Nanavati report, one Kher Singh had filed an affidavit before Jain-Banerjee Committee and stated, "that on that day in the morning, he had seen local MP Sajjan Kumar addressing a crowd of persons and telling them that Sikhs had killed their mata and that no Sikh in the area should be spared. At that time Ishwar Singh, Hardwari Lal and other local persons had raised slogans against Sikhs". The report further states, "This witness therefore rushed back to his house. Dr Iqbal Singh Chadha, Resham Singh and Ajit Singh were burnt alive. When the mob came near his house, the neighbours told the mob that nobody was present in the house and so he was saved. He was rescued by the military on November 3, 1984. Kher Singh had later on approached the police and told them that he was a witness to the murder of those three persons but the police told him that as no case was registered with respect to their murder, his could not be recorded."

Regarding this incident FIR no 178 was recorded only on November 15, 1984. No one was arrested in this case and the case was filed as untraced. Justice Nanavati observed in his report, "it appears that in respect of death of Iqbal Singh Chadha FIR No 178/84 and the case was then filed as untraced.

Kher Singh had specifically stated that he was the eyewitness to the murder of Dr Iqbal Singh Chadha yet his statement was not recorded with the result that he was not even cited as a witness. Thus even though eyewitness was available, the police did not investigate the case properly and closed it as untraced."

While Justice Nanavati states an eyewitness was available, the Action Taken Report says the contrary. It states, "no eyewitness came forward to give any specific evidence or clue about the incident. Therefore the case was sent as untraced which was accepted by the competent court." Interestingly, the police refused to record the statement of eyewitness Kher Singh but lodged an FIR based on the complaint of Harvinder Kaur, wife of Dr Chadha, who had not named any person as she had not seen the incident.


"Is this justice? The killers are roaming free. When the killers of Indira Gandhi were hanged, why are those involved in killing thousands of people being let off?" asked Gurdeep, 58, who lives in a dilapidated flat in Tilak Vihar, also called widows' colony since the carnage that claimed more than 2,000 Sikh men.

Some 800 families live in this west Delhi colony and many widows lead lonely lives. The youth have only faint memories of happy, joint families. "It was a planned massacre," said Gurdeep. "Someone would have given the killers the kerosene and petrol to set our people on fire."

"We had a wedding in the family and we were discussing the killing when policemen took away all the weapons, even our kitchen knives," said Gurdeep. A mob dragged her younger son out and beat him up mercilessly. "I begged of the policemen who were watching. But I was told to sit inside my house. My son was doused with kerosene and set on fire," said Gurdeep, who was molested when she tried to save him. "My elder son had escaped and on the second day, I saw a dog eating a burnt body. I recognised him from the ring on his finger." Like many mothers in the colony, she saved her youngest son by disguising him as a girl.

After the carnage Bhagat and Tytler were promoted when Rajiv Gandhi came to power despite the People's Union for Democratic Rights and People's Union for Civil Liberties providing evidence against the politicians. Tytler and Kumar were never arrested. Bhagat was arrested in 1995, but the case collapsed after the witness, Satnam Kaur, backtracked 10 months later. Alzheimer's disease has ended the ageing Congressman's political career.

The survivors feel the Prime Minister, despite being a Sikh, has not stood up for them. "Manmohan Singh is just a puppet in the hands of Sonia Gandhi. He is a Sikh. How can he still head such a government?" asked Jassi Bai, 70, who lost her husband, son and son-in-law in the carnage. "We want these leaders to be punished."

"This is how terrorists are born," said Wazir Singh, who has seen his father only in photographs. The survivors are determined to fight. Said Gurdeep, "If the government does not heed our protests, we will kill ourselves and our children will continue to fight for justice even if it takes years."

1984: Status Report

Cases against police officers 22
No. of FIRs 587
FIRs quashed 11
Proceedings withdrawn 3
Pending trial 42
Pending investigation 1
Filed as untraced 241
Discharged 11
Convicted 25
Acquitted 253

Reported by Tehalka Reporters

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