Court awards death penalty in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case

New Delhi (IANS): In the second such conviction leading to capital punishment in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a trial court awarded the death penalty to a man after holding him guilty of murder while another person was given life imprisonment in the case.

Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey awarded the death penalty to Yashpal Singh and sentenced Naresh Sherawat to life imprisonment.

The prosecution demanded the death penalty to the two, saying it was the rarest of rare case. But the defence counsel pleaded for leniency.

The court also slapped a fine of around Rs 3.5 million each on the two convicts and ordered them to pay the fine as compensation to the surviving family of the deceased.

The offences the convict committed belong to rarest of rare case category, the court said while pronouncing the quantum of sentence.

“They (convicts) being the influential neighbours of the victims, without any provocation, caused horrendous crime of murder and looting,” the court said.

The court noted that the convicts eliminated all victims because of their faith, community and religion which led to their (victim’s) displacement.

“Such victims would never be able to forget the tale of their horrors or to rehabilitate themselves in the previous position,” the court said.

Last week, the court convicted Sherawat and Yashpal Singh of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons.

Sherawat and Yashpal Singh were accused of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of south Delhi during the riots that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The violence claimed hundreds of lives, mostly in Delhi.

On a complaint by the victim’s brother Santokh Singh, the police lodged a case. But in 1994, the police wanted to close the case citing lack of evidence. The case was reopened by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Earlier in 1995, a trial court had convicted a man named Kishori for murder and ordered that he be hanged. However, the Supreme Court in 1999 reduced the sentence from capital punishment to life imprisonment.

Kishori was convicted for violence in Trilokpuri in east Delhi on November 1, 1984.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader H.S. Phoolka, who has been fighting anti-Sikh riots cases, said that Tuesday’s verdict was the beginning of delivery of justice.

“This is a great verdict. We are thankful to the judge for this bold decision and this is the beginning of delivery of justice. Many cases are now pending which are at final stages. We are expecting that we will achieve success in those cases also.” Phoolka told IANS.

He said arguments have concluded in the case involving Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and the judgement was reserved.

“Now we expect we will succeed in that also.”

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also welcomed the sentence.

“Welcome the conviction by a Delhi court in the 1984 riots case. Justice has finally been meted out to the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. Hope the others involved in the attacks are also soon brought to book,” he tweeted.

Union Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said justice had been delivered to the two culprits due to efforts of the National Democratic Alliance government.

“They killed! They burnt! They raped! Today they hang!! I thank Waheguru for giving Sikhs a ray of hope in today’s verdict against two culprits of 1984 Sikh genocide and pray for similar punishment for Sajjan, Tytler, and their partners in crimes against Sikhs!!

“Today, justice has been delivered to 2 culprits of the 1984 Sikh genocide because of the efforts of NDA goverment. I thank PM Narendra Modiji for setting up SIT in 2015 and reopening the case closed by Delhi Police in 1994.

“We will not rest till the last murderer is brought to justice,” she said in tweets.