A Delhi court on Tuesday pronounced the quantum of punishment for 1984 anti-Sikh riots convicts Yashpal Singh and Naresh Sherawat. Additional Sessions judge Ajay Pandey gave Singh the death penalty and sentenced to Sherawat life. Last week, the court found both guilty of murdering Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of South Delhi during the riots on 1 November, 1984.
The case against the two was lodged on a complaint filed by Hardev Singh's brother Santokh. The court convicted Sherawat and Yashpal Singh for murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons. It was the first conviction in the cases reopened by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up in 2015.
What was the case about?
On 1 November, 1984, Hardev Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Sangat Singh were at their grocery shops in Mahipalpur when a violent mob of 800 to 1,000 people came towards their shops. The mob was armed with deadly weapons such as iron rods, lathis, hockey sticks, stones, kerosene oil.
They closed their shops and rushed to the rented accommodation of one Surjeet Singh, located on the first floor of a house in the area. After some time, they were joined by Avtar Singh, who also took shelter with them. They locked themselves inside the room.
The mob—which burned the shops by then—came to Surjeet's room and brutally assaulted everyone. They stabbed Hardev and Sangat and threw all the men from the balcony.
The accused poured kerosene in the room and burnt it down. The injured men were shifted to Safdarjung Hospital where Avatar Singh and Hardev Singh succumbed to their injuries.
The Delhi Police closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence. However, an SIT on the riots further investigated the case. A case was registered at Vasant Kunj Police Station in 1993 on the recommendation of Justice JD Jain and DK Aggarwal committee based on the affidavit filed by Santokh on 9 September, 1985, before Justice Rangnath Misra Commission and the investigation was conducted by the Anti-Riot Cell of the Delhi Police.
During investigation, the Delhi Police could not gather evidence to prosecute any accused and after investigation, an untraced (closure) report was filed which was accepted by the court on 9 February, 1994.
Earlier, the incident was investigated in 1984 and a charge sheet was filed in 1985 against one Jai Pal Singh but he was acquitted on 20 December, 1986.
An SIT was formed by an order of the Ministry Of Home Affairs for investigating/re-investigating the "appropriately serious cases" of 1984 Sikh riots, which had since been closed. The SIT was contacted by Sangat Singh, one of the victims, after they published public notices in various papers in Delhi and Punjab.
Hindustan Times reported that the SIT told the court that Kuldeep, Sangat and Surjeet identified their neighbours Naresh Sherawat and Yashpal Singh as the accused. “The survived victims identified Naresh as the one who was carrying a can of kerosene and Yashpal as the one who lit the fire,” the SIT mentioned in the charge sheet, according to the report.
Sherawat used to work in Mahipalpur post office as postmaster and Yashpal Singh, a transporter. The SIT, in its charge sheet filed on 31 January, 2017, named them and said Sherawat had poured the kerosene oil on the door of the room where the victims were hiding.
The SIT also examined Ratan Singh, brother of Avtar Singh, who had settled in Italy. Ratan Singh came down to India in October 2017 to record his statement since he was the one who had identified his brother's body at the hospital after the incident.
The SIT cited 18 witnesses in their charge sheet, based on which the two were convicted.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Nov 20, 2018 18:40 PM