New Delhi: The Delhi Police succumbed to anti-Sikh sentiments in 1984, thus abetting rioting and arson, a sting operation by news portal Cobrapost revealed on Tuesday. The expose triggered a political row.
Members of Shiromani Akali Dal ( Badal) protesting against Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh comment on the issue of 1984 riots during Punjab Congress election rally. File pic
The Congress, which was also in power then, sought a probe into the sting operation, while the BJP said it proves that the riots were sponsored by the then ruling party and its coalition ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal reiterated its manifesto resolve to set up fast track courts to nail the guilty and ensure justice for the victims.
The sting operation titled "Chapter 84" claimed that the government did not allow the police to act while creating an impression that police were not performing their duty.
"The government's intention appeared to be that the Sikhs should get some punishment," said Shoorveer Singh Tyagi, then police station house officer (SHO) at Kalyanpuri area of east Delhi, whom Cobrapost interviewed.
"Messages were broadcast directing police to not take action against rioters who were shouting slogans of 'Indira Gandhi zindabad'," Rohtas Singh, SHO at Delhi Cantonment, told Cobrapost.
Throwing light on the complicity of the state in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the report added that police logbooks were conveniently changed to eliminate evidence of inaction by senior police officials.
Police did not allow the victims of rioting to file first information reports (FIRs or police complaints) or when they filed FIRs, they clubbed many cases of murder and arson that took place in different places under one FIR, according to Cobrapost.
Police officers were also guilty of dumping bodies of victims elsewhere to minimise riot-related crimes near their police stations, Cobrapost claimed.
BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the 1984 riots were a Congress-sponsored pogrom in which not only "human beings but also humanity died".
"The way Congress has tried to justify this saying when a big tree falls, the earth shakes. Today, children who saw their families being burnt are coming forward. There is no question of forgiving the Congress for this," he said.
Congress's Rashid Alvi said the claims made by the sting operation should be investigated properly. "It should be inquired into and action should be taken against all those officers who are involved."
"Whoever is responsible whether it is politicians or police officers they should be punished," he added.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Sutjewala alleged that the issue was getting politicised in the atmospherics of election. "SAD and BJP are trying to regain their lost ground. They seem to be rattled and trying to clutch even a straw to avoid defeat as both the parties are going to lose badly in Punjab," he said.
Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral said: "When we (NDA) form the government next month, we will nail the culprit and set up fast track courts."
Releasing the party's manifesto in Punjab's Bathinda Monday, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said a commission of inquiry will be set up under a Supreme Court judge to "inquire into the entire political conspiracy behind the massacre and expose and punish the real conspirators", while fast track courts will come up to try its cases.
Cobrapost interviewed many police officers and also S.C. Tandon, who then headed Delhi Police, and Gautam Kaul, the then additional commissioner of police.