1984 anti-Sikh riots: Delhi court sentences convict Yashpal Singh to death; Naresh Sehrawat gets life sentence

The Patiala House Court in Delhi on Tuesday sentenced 1984 Sikh riots convict Yashpal Singh to death, and gave life imprisonment to another convict Naresh Sehrawat.

Three decades after the riots, the Delhi court had held Sehrawat and Singh guilty on 14 November in connection with the murder of two Sikhs in South Delhi's Mahipalpur area in 1984.

The court held both the accused guilty under various sections including 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 395 (dacoity) and 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the IPC.

Akali leader and BJP MLA Manjinder Sirsa welcomed the court order for the two convicts.

On 15 November, Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey reserved for 20 November the order on the quantum of punishment to be awarded to the two convicts for killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh.

 1984 anti-Sikh riots: Delhi court sentences convict Yashpal Singh to death; Naresh Sehrawat gets life sentence

Representational image. Reuters

It was the first conviction in the cases reopened by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up in 2015. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence. However, a SIT on the riots reopened it.

The SIT demand was opposed by the counsel appearing for the convicts who sought life imprisonment for his clients, the minimum for the offence of murder.

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 HS 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?"

Later, as the convicts were being taken to the lock up inside the Patiala House Courts premises after the proceedings, Manjinder Sirsa slapped Yashpal — while slogans were raised against both the convicts.

However, the police separated Sirsa, his supporters and the convicts.

Of the 650 cases registered in connection with anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these 267 cases, five were later taken up by the CBI. The SIT also scrutinised the records of 18 cancelled cases.

The SIT found 60 cases appropriate for further investigation. It filed "untraced report" in 52 cases in the last one-and-a-half years.

Out of the eight cases being investigated, chargesheets have been filed in five and three, in which senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar is an accused, are pending investigation.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Nov 20, 2018 17:06:15 IST