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1984 riots: Victims to stage protest march in Delhi today

New Delhi: It’s the 28th anniversary of the anti-Sikh riots today that left more than 3,000 Sikhs dead in Delhi. To mark the occasion, victims’ families and other Sikh groups have planned to take out a march today from Jantar Mantar towards Parliament. These Sikh groups also plan to hand over a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding a Special Investigating Team should be set up to probe the 1984 carnage and bring guilty to book. The petition has already been signed by 30,000 Indians including several eminent citizens including justice V R Iyer, Madhu Kishwar, Teesta Setalwad, to name a few.

On this day, 28 years ago, fires raged across the national capital as rampaging mobs continued to attack and murder Sikhs in the riots that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

And almost three decades after the massacre of thousands of Sikhs, is the community feeling like the country has let them down?

The 1984 riots left deep scars and more than 10 commissions and committees later, little justice has been given to the thousands of families of the victims. Young mothers and fathers have now become grandparents. An entire generation has come of age. They all pray for justice but the wheels have turned ever so slowly.

Naresh Gujaral, the Shiromani Akali Dal leader says that his party will continue to fight for justice, to demand a special investigative team (SIT), as had been set up on directions of India’s highest court, the Supreme Court, in the case of the Gujarat riots. He follows it by saying that the reason this has not happened is that the Sikhs are not a vote bank. “It’s a wonderful but small community, and it seems we don’t matter to the government.”

Time is clearly running out fast if there is to be any meaningful inquiry. 28 years later, many of the eye witnesses have died, as have some of those who carried out the murders of innocent civilians. Various governments have set up committees and commissions to try and secure justice. But with powers to just make recommendations, they have made little headway.

H S Phulka, senior High court lawyer who has been fighting to secure justice for Sikh families, says, “Just 12 guilty convictions in murder cases across India in which a total of 30 people have been convicted – and most of them are out currently as their appeals are heard, compare that with 3000 Sikhs murdered in Delhi and 4000 more across the country, one can ask, is this justice?”

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