New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday not only served justice but minced no words in condemning the crime against humanity either. Its judgment made a deep sense of pain surface as the wounds of 1984 mass killing of Sikhs were bared open once more. The cracker of a verdict that the court delivered spared none, from the then political regime of the Congress to the role of the police and investigative agencies.

The two-judge bench of the court lauded the witnesses for having stood their ground. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), departing from the negative media glare that it received in the recent times, got a pat on the back.

'Crime against humanity' and 'Human tragedy' 

The high court compared the 1984 mass killing of Sikhs in India to the post-partition violence that snuffed out lakhs of lives. The court noted that “in the summer of 1947, during Partition, this country witnessed horrific mass crimes where several lakhs of civilians, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus were massacred,” and that “thirty-seven years later, the country was again witness to another enormous human tragedy.”

The court recalled that, following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in “the morning of 31 October 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards, a communal frenzy was unleashed.”

“For four days,” the court said, “between 1st and 4th November of that year, all over Delhi, 2,733 Sikhs were brutally murdered. Their houses were destroyed. In the rest of the country too thousands of Sikhs were killed.”

Violence was patronised politically

“A majority of the perpetrators of these horrific mass crimes enjoyed political patronage and were aided by an indifferent law enforcement agency,” the court observed.

It added: “The criminals escaped prosecution and punishment for over two decades. It took as many as ten Committees and Commissions for the investigation into the role of some of them to be entrusted in 2005 to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), 21 years after the occurrence.”

3. Pat on the back for CBI, witness 

The high court lauded the courage of the witnesses who stood by their accounts, despite intermediate setbacks. “The accused in this case have been brought to justice primarily on account of the courage and perseverance of three eyewitnesses. Jagdish Kaur, whose husband, son and three cousins were the five killed; Jagsher Singh, another cousin of Jagdish Kaur, and Nirpreet Kaur who saw the Gurudwara being burnt down and her father being burnt alive by the raging mobs,” the court observed. 

The court also patted the premier investigation agency for its persistence in the case. “It is only after the CBI entered the scene, that they were able to be assured and they spoke up. Admirably, they stuck firmly to their truth at the trial.”

“This Court is of the view that the mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in November 1984 were in fact “crimes against humanity”,” the HC observed, adding, “They will continue to shock the collective conscience of society for a long time to come.”

“While it is undeniable that it has taken over three decades to bring the accused in this case to justice, and that our criminal justice system stands severely tested in that process, it is essential, in a democracy governed by the rule of law to be able to call out those responsible for such mass crimes. It is important to assure those countless victims waiting patiently that despite the challenges, the truth will prevail and justice will be done,” the court said.