A Delhi court on Tuesday awarded death sentence to Yashpal Singh and life imprisonment to Naresh Sherawat, both convicted in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. The duo were convicted for killing two members of the Sikh community.
The special investigation team (SIT) had sought death penalty for the two convicts. According to the SIT, there act was a part of a “genocide” against members of a particular community and fell under the rarest of rare category of cases.
They were convicted of killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of South Delhi during the riots.
Their conviction is the first in the anti-Sikh riots cases reopened by the SIT, which was set up in 2015. Notably, the Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence.
During the proceedings, the public prosecutor for SIT Surinder Mohit Singh had said that it was "brutal murder of two innocent young persons aged around 25 each. It was a planned murder since the accused were carrying kerosene oil, sticks etc."
It was not the only incident in Delhi and around 3,000 people were killed, he added.
"People from only one community were targeted. It was a genocide. The incidents had an international effect and it took 34 years to get justice. A signal should go to the society to deter them from committing such horrible crimes. This is rarest of rare case which calls for death penalty," Singh had said.
However, the demand was opposed by advocate OP Sharma, appearing for the convicts, who said that the attack was not deliberate or planned but a sudden flare up.
"The Prime Minister of the country was shot dead by her own bodyguards belonging to a particular community. What could be more wrong than that? She was warned and suggested to change her guards. Still she kept them. But she was betrayed and brutally killed. The present case was a sudden flare up. There was no pre-planning," the defence counsel said.
His submission was opposed by senior advocate H S Phoolka, who appeared for the victims.
"Every Sikh condemned the act of killing of the Prime Minister. It was tragic. But does that mean that Sikhs be killed? Does that give licence to kill?
"Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was killed by Nathuram Godse. But did anything of that short happened against anyone? The accused were leading the mob. The whole world is watching that how we treat such cases," Phoolka had said.
(With PTI Inputs)