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Fresh probe likely into 1984 riots; Oppn says poll ‘gimmick’

A fresh probe is likely to be ordered into the 30-year-old anti-Sikh riots of Delhi, with a government-appointed committee recommending setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT), a move slammed by the Opposition as a poll “gimmick”.

The committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) G P Mathur, was set up on December 23 last year to look into the possibility of re-investigation of the 1984 riots.

It submitted its report to Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week, recommending setting up of an SIT for a fresh probe into the riots that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, the sources said.

An order to this effect is likely after the February 7 Delhi Assembly polls as the Model Code of Conduct is in place in the national capital now and no such announcement can be made, the sources added.

As many as 3,325 people were killed in the riots. Of them, Delhi accounted for 2,733. The rest were killed in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states.

Opposition parties slammed the move, saying it was an attempt to influence voters in Delhi as less than a week is left for polling.

“It is deprecating. Justice cannot be an electoral gain… Is it only an electoral ploy or gimmick of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to woo voters ahead of polls? If it is so, then it is deprecating,” said Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Questioning the timing, he asked whether the Prime Minister and his government were “sleeping” for nine months and now suddenly woke up when only a week is left for polling in Delhi.

He said if a fresh probe is ordered into anti-Sikh riots, similar actions should be taken with regard to riots in Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar and Mangolpuri in Delhi.

Aam Aadmi Party leader H S Phoolka said the “leak” about the move “appears to be a poll gimmick” as it has come on the eve of elections here.

“Nobody knows how many cases they are going to re-open. Nothing has come out… It seems it is like a joke,” Phoolka said.

Noting that the government had earlier made an announcement about Rs 5 lakh compensation to the victims, he said only 17 people have been given it till now.

“Now, just on the eve of the elections again, they have given this leak.” Akali Dal leader and Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Committee chief Manjit Singh G K welcomed the move and said the SIT should be set up at the earliest.

Manjit Singh, who took a delegation to meet the home minister, said Rajnath Singh had assured them that justice will be done.

“Akali Dal has been fighting for a long time for justice for the 1984 riots and now we are thankful to the Prime Minister who created this committee… I think, now the government should not waste any time and should constitute an SIT so that justice is delivered because it has been delayed for over 30 years,” he said.

BJP had earlier demanded re-investigation into all anti-Sikh riot cases.

The Justice Nanavati Commission had recommended reopening of only four of the 241 cases closed by police but BJP wanted the re-investigation of all the other 237 cases.

However, it was not immediately clear as to how many anti-Sikh riot cases have been recommended for reopening by the Justice Mathur committee.

Of the 241 related cases, only four were reopened and re-investigated by CBI. In two of the cases, CBI had filed a charge sheet and in one of the cases five persons, including a former MLA, were convicted.

On December 10, 2014, the government had approved a proposal to give an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The compensation to the families of the riot victims will be in addition to what they have already received from the government and other agencies.

The fresh compensation will cost the exchequer Rs 166 crore.

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