Sajjan Kumar's conviction and why 1984 riots can't be compared to 2002

There are significant differences in the context of the two incidents of violence.

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Updated: Dec 18, 2018, 12:11 PM IST

Sajjan Kumar is convicted by due process of law. We have many reactions from different political parties. The reactions are on expected lines. No surprises at that. 

Night of October 31, 1984, and succeeding few nights in Delhi
Let us now briefly recollect what happened on those fateful nights of 31.10.1984 to few nights into first week of November 1984. I lived in Delhi and have been witness to the pogrom orchestrated by workers of a political party to harness the unfortunate death of our nation's Prime Minister. I do not want to reopen the wounds of the victims. 

Punjab prior to Indira's assassination
Whatever had been happening in Punjab in the years immediately preceding 1984 leading to first the Operation Blue Star and subsequent assassination of Honourable Prime Minister of the country is best forgotten when we fully know that it was orchestrated from across the border.

We learnt new terms like 'gallu gara', transistor and few others hitherto unknown till then. There were a spate of attacks happening in many places and militant attacks hogged the headlines of major dailies on a daily basis. Even the daily 9pm news bulletin on Doordarshan, anchored by Geetanjali Iyer, Neeti Ravindran or Ramu Damodaran, day in day out almost always started with some militant attack in Tarn Tarn or Muktasar or elsewhere. These places are still etched in my memory with such power that when later in life I had this opportunity of living in Manchester and watching BBC Northwest in UK beginning news with Merseyside Police, I used to relate to the days of the Punjab militancy.

Not pardonable but are the victims responsible?
But what happened as revengeful reaction to the unfortunate assassination of PM is equally unpardonable. The political party leaders, to demonstrate their loyalty, were wrecking vengeance on the ethnic group whose member assassinated the Prime Minister.

They were not just wrecking vengeance. They were actually burning down entire neighbourhoods. And for this riot and carnage they were getting leadership and directions from political leaders like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, Kamal Nath, HKL Bhagat, etc.

We Delhiites of those times were witness to this. Many young infants lost their future, became orphaned, some lost their homes and the catastrophe that struck their lives those days. The Guruparb, the holy Guru Nanak Jayanthi which fell on 5.11.1984 or so, was a dark one for most families.

They fought for justice 
But the hardworking and zealous community had fought steadfastly for justice. Indeed, their quest for justice was frustrated at every stage. The law enforcing agencies and Delhi Police were frustrating them. Till one their own, senior officer Shri Chandra Prakash, had to face the law. Thereafter, many politicians were seemingly getting off the hook.

Indeed, Shri HS Phoolka does need appreciation for this endeavour, although I may not agree with his political statements made recently. He has done a yeoman service in getting a semblance of justice in the last month, first with conviction of about 40 persons and now with the conviction of Sajjan Kumar.

Resurrected and rebuilt lives with respect and dignity
But one good thing about the community which is a lesson for others to learn - unlike the ever-whining Kashmiri militants and separatists, this community never asked for crutches to compensate for their loss of opportunities from the government by way of compensations, special packages, etc. By dint of their hard work, they established themselves and are earning a livelihood honestly. In case anyone desires to corroborate, I would take them on a visit to Tilak Vihar in West Delhi, where many on those fateful nights lost their guardians, breadwinning father, etc as one-year-old or less-than-a-year-old infants at the time of the riots are now auto-drivers, or driving Uber/Ola and are doing good work, having learnt their vocations. They are not seeking any Sachar Committee Reports as crutches to ask for alms from the state. It is their case of Paradise Lost being turned into Paradise Regained.

Political reactions
Now coming to the political reactions, we have one Mr Sanjay Jha speaking on a TV channel that 1984 and 2002 are similar. Now, I read somewhere Kapil Sibal stating that 1984 accused never held any post in the government thereafter, unlike the 2002 accused. It is in this context that I would like state that they are not comparable.

Contours of 2002
Firstly, when we talk of 2002, we have to talk on the whole sequence of events. The Sabarmati Express incident happened at Godhra Station on February 27, 2002, on the S5/S6 compartments in which Kar Sevaks were travelling. About 140 litres of petrol had been stored in one Aman Guest House opposite to Godhra Station. The train had started its onward movement when the emergency chain was pulled and after that, by design, these two coaches were attacked. After investigation, charges were pressed under POTA against the accused by the Government of Gujarat.

UPA deputes ASG to defence POTA accused
But Government of India deputed the services of Additional Solicitor General of India, to challenge the arraignment of POTA charges on the accused. Please verify from the records of the Sardarji Maghanji Vaghela case (in Gujarat High Court Union of India Affidavit filed by yours truly).

Further, the actual counsel for the POTA accused, Ms Nithya Ramakrishnan, had no need to argue as the Union of India was taking on the Gujarat government's Advocate General. See records of Gujarat High Court on 28.1.2009 to 2.2.2009. That is the help rendered by then UPA government help a conspirator and perpetrators of the burning of the Sabarmati Express, and seek to frame the then sitting Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Lies of Sanjiv Bhatt
Now the reference to carnage and riot that took place after two days, on which different political parties have their take. It is interesting that they place reliance upon an IPS officer who has been dismissed, whose dismissal has been confirmed by the Supreme Court along with recording his malicious and capricious intent.

The fact that Shri Sanjiv Bhatt is lying and that he could not have heard CM issuing orders as alleged by him, has been captured to picture perfect detail in my book. Further, quite a few of the alleged accused have been acquitted in the case.

Further, it has also come to notice that voices like Rais Khan, who was once a close ally of Teesta Setalvad, and one more important witness have been reported suppressed. The Gulbarg Society case has also so far not proved the allegation and it is the purported victim of an alleged carnage who taking it from one appellate court to another with not a single place a conviction is coming forth.

Hence, it is intriguing that a parallel is being drawn between 1984 and 2002. Now, I have put the facts on record which are verifiable from public records. Will any person take the this gauntlet of denying these facts to further their narrative of drawing parallel between 1984 and 2002. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)