1984 Materials

Chaurasi Ki Na Insaafi: Demand justice for 1984

They say it has been more than 30 years so forget the 1984 massacres, but how can I? Not one day goes by without me thinking about it. ——- Bhaggi Kaur, survivor of 1984 Sikh massacres.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of independent India’s most shameful episodes.

In November 1984, at least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Sikh men were dragged out of their homes by mobs and shot dead. Others were hacked to death, or doused with petrol and burned alive. Many Sikh women were raped. Commissions of inquiry reported that political leaders were involved in instigating perpetrators, and the police simply turned a blind eye to the carnage.

The massacres of 1984 were a national disgrace. And they were followed by another: 30 years of impunity.

Three decades after the massacres, only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice. In many cases, investigations have not been completed even after 30 years. Thousands of victims and survivors continue to wait for justice and closure.

The Delhi Police closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacres, citing lack of evidence. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have been punished.

The victims and survivors of the 1984 massacres have a right to justice and remedy. And it is time this right was respected.

* Demand that the Government of India reopens every one of the cases closed by the Delhi police.

* Demand that an independent team reinvestigates the cases, and authorities bring to justice all those responsible for the massacres – whether they are political leaders, police or government officials.

* Demand justice for 1984.

THIS PETITION IS CLOSED NOW

Thousands call for justice for victims of 1984 Sikh massacres

Over 88,134 people across India have supported an Amnesty International India campaign calling for the Indian government to reopen all closed cases and re-investigate the massacre of over 3,000 Sikhs in the days following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

“This year marks 30 years of impunity for the crimes committed during one of India’s most shameful episodes. It is a national disgrace that thousands of victims and survivors of the 1984 violence have been denied justice for three decades now,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

“The Indian government cannot continue abdicating its responsibility to punish those who were behind the violence against Sikh men, women and children in 1984. Authorities must heed the voices of the thousands who are calling for justice.

“What happened in 1984 cannot and will not be forgotten.”

A number of official commissions of inquiry were appointed to investigate the 1984 massacres, and some found evidence of complicity of police officials and political leaders from the Congress party in systematic attacks against members of the Sikh community.

However very few people have been convicted in cases related to the violence. After the massacres, the Delhi police closed investigations into hundreds of cases, citing lack of evidence. In many other cases, investigations have not been completed even after 30 years. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have received any form of official punishment.

“The sheer scale of the impunity for the 1984 massacre is staggering, and has also been used to downplay other incidents of mass violence. As long as the perpetrators of the carnage in 1984 go unpunished, the rule of law in India remains weakened,” said Shailesh Rai.

On 30th October, the central government announced that the families of over 3,000 people killed in the anti-Sikh violence would receive 5,00,000 rupees in compensation.

“While any measures towards remedy and reparation are welcome, they cannot be a substitute for justice,” said Shailesh Rai.

Amnesty International urges the government to establish an independent team to conduct thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all cases, including closed cases, of anti-Sikh violence in 1984.

Where sufficient admissible evidence is found, authorities must prosecute the accused and bring those responsible to justice – whether they are political leaders, police or government officials.

For media queries please contact

Durga Nandini, Senior Media Officer, 09711994035. Twitter: @nandinidurga

Himanshi Matta, Media Officer, 08860182310. Twitter: @himanshimatta

Demand justice for the 1984 Sikh Massacre

Over 31 years have passed since the 1984 Sikh massacre, when at least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Over the last three decades, 10 commissions and committees have looked into the 1984 killings. Some of them reported that political leaders from the Congress party were involved in the attacks. However only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice.

In 2014, Amnesty International India, along with other human rights organizations, urged the government of India to set up an independent team to reinvestigate all the closed cases related to the 1984 massacre.

However, this team has failed to show any progress. Ask Home Minister Rajnath Singh to keep his promises of Justice.

Sign the petition!

No progress in fresh investigation into 1984 Sikh massacre cases after one year

A Special Investigation team (SIT) formed by the Indian government in February 2015 to reinvestigate closed cases related to the 1984 Sikh massacre has not yet filed charges in a single case, Amnesty International India said today.

The Ministry of Home Affairs disclosed this information on 29 December 2015 in response to a Right to Information application filed by Amnesty International India.

“Tomorrow will mark one year since the formation of the SIT,” said Sanam Wazir, campaigner at Amnesty International India. “Unlike previous commissions appointed to investigate the attacks against Sikhs in 1984, the SIT had the authority to reopen cases and file charges. It raised hopes among victims and survivors that they would finally get justice.

“But the SIT’s apparent lack of progress so far has been baffling.”

60-year-old Lakshmi Kaur, whose husband was killed in the massacre, told Amnesty International India, “With time even the government has started taking this issue very lightly. But the victims who have seen their loved ones being killed cannot move ahead till justice is delivered.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) constituted the SIT, which comprises of two senior police officers and a retired judge, on 12 February 2015. The SIT’s terms of reference included reinvestigating criminal cases filed in Delhi in relation to the 1984 Sikh massacre, and filing charges against accused persons where there was sufficient available evidence.

The SIT was given six months to complete this exercise. However in August 2015, the MHA extended the term of the team by one year to August 2016. Amnesty International India filed a Right to Information application in August 2015 seeking the reasons behind the extension. The MHA responded that the information sought was not covered by the RTI law.

In its response to another RTI application in December, the MHA stated that the SIT has been looking into 18 “cancelled cases” and 34 files of a committee which had investigated the massacre in the early 1990s. Amnesty International India filed another RTI application seeking details of the cases. The MHA refused to provide this information, stating that it would impede investigations.

On 27 January, the Supreme Court, responding to a petition seeking speedy justice for victims of the massacre, sought information from the central government on the status of the SIT investigation.

“The SIT’s functioning has been marked by a near-complete lack of transparency,” said Sanam Wazir. “It has provided little information to the public about its operations or its investigation.”

“The SIT has a chance to finally deliver justice for the thousands who suffered in 1984. But it appears to be wasting this opportunity.”

Background Information

At least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, in 1984 over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Yet only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice.

The Delhi Police closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacres, citing lack of evidence. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have been punished.

Over 600,000 people supported Amnesty International India’s campaign seeking justice for the victims and survivors of the 1984 massacre in 2015.

The 1984 Sikh massacre as witnessed by a 15 year old

By Sanamdeep Singh Wazir (@sanamwazir) | Campaigner, Amnesty International India

“My parents tossed me and my siblings to our neighbours. They safely caught us with some bedsheets and promised us safety and refuge. We could see our parents hopelessly waiting for the inevitable. Tears rolling down from their eyes and bodies shivering, they were relieved that their children were safe, yet scared as they saw the mob which wanted to set our car on fire to try and kill us”. A sense of fear took over Nirmal Kour as she recounted that fateful night to me 31 years since it happened. She was only 15 then.
I met Mrs Nirmal Kour while collecting 30-year old case studies for an Amnesty International India campaign seeking justice for the massacre. In between October 31 to November 2 in 1984, around 3000 people were massacred in the capital city. Mobs swarmed into Sikh homes, brutally killing men, women and children.

Mrs Kour gave me chilling details from the night that she vividly remembers till today. “A group of over 100 people wearing red shirts and black pants marched towards our house. Some of them were carrying torches. We could hear the mob questioning our Punjabi tenants on the ground floor. When asked if any Sikh family lived on the first floor, our tenants said no”.

Despite the tenants’ denial, the mob persistently asked them to hand over the Sardar family. Mrs Kour told me that the mob knew about their whereabouts. “They wanted to set our car on fire, but some of them suggested that they burn down the Sikh Gurudwara first. After they were done looting and pilfering the nearby Gurudwara, they left our street and marched on to the next street, to our surprise”.

There, Mrs Kour said, the mob attacked other Sikh families, harassed the women and tried to cut the hair of Sikh boys. They lit fire to rubber tyres and threw them on the innocent Sikh boys. I asked her if she still feels scared. “My mother till today panics if the door is closed forcefully. She cannot help but cry when she is asked about these events. I, too, feel horrified remembering that night. Those who saved us were Hindus. My cousin sister and her kids were saved by a Muslim family, who stayed with them for almost a week”.

There, Mrs Kour said, the mob attacked other Sikh families, harassed the women and tried to cut the hair of Sikh boys. They lit fire to rubber tyres and threw them on the innocent Sikh boys. I asked her if she still feels scared. “My mother till today panics if the door is closed forcefully. She cannot help but cry when she is asked about these events. I, too, feel horrified remembering that night. Those who saved us were Hindus. My cousin sister and her kids were saved by a Muslim family, who stayed with them for almost a week”.
While recording Mrs Kour’s statement, I saw tears rolling down her eyes. She seemed more anguished than scared. Her family had not lost money or property during the 1984 violence. What they did lose was their hope in the system. Today, she lives with her family in Patiala and never wants to go back to Delhi.

Thirty-one years have passed since the 1984 Sikh massacre. In February, the central government formed an SIT (Special Investigation Team), authorized to reopen closed cases and file charges. Many of those awaiting justice are no longer with us now. There are only a handful of cases pending in courts. Justice is long overdue. It is time for India to know who was responsible for the killings that have forever stained our history and politics. The failure in delivering justice for the 1984 massacre has been used to downplay other incidents of mass violence, notably in Gujarat in 2002 and Muzzafarnagar in 2013. As long as 1984 goes unpunished, there will be those who try to justify impunity elsewhere too.

Revisiting Widows’ Colony 30 years after the Sikh Massacre

By Sanamdeep Singh Wazir (@sanamwazir), Campaigner / Amnesty International India

Thirty years after the Sikh Massacre in Delhi, which happened six years before I was born, I was delegated by Amnesty International India to campaign and raise awareness in New Delhi for the survivors of this horrific incident. To try to ensure that survivors’ voices were heard, and their demands met by the concerned authorities, I was to attempt to work as a bridge between the two.

But first, I had to understand for myself what and who I was fighting for, and why we needed to intervene in the first place.
My concern was not so much why the 1984 massacre happened. As ghastly and immoral as ethnic massacres are, they can sometimes be understood in a historical perspective as politically or financially motivated and strategically carried out.

“When Indira Gandhi was murdered, all of us at Trilokpuri were saddened, but nobody expected that we would be so closely associated with the assassination”, said Bhagi Kour.

What I wanted to know was: what ails the survivors and the victims’ families almost three decades after the incident? Just what is the extent of the continuing injustice of 1984? And of our collective amnesia about the plight of fellow Indians?

These were some of the questions that baffled me initially, and as I started interacting with those claiming justice, the picture became clearer and more depressing. The answers were simple and unfortunate.

My first visit to the densely populated Widows’ Colony in Tilak Vihar, where the affected families were rehabilitated, was overwhelming. There are over 1200 families living in this colony. While facing their own fair share of unique problems, most of the people complain about the sordid conditions they have been living in. Poverty, lack of sanitation and hygiene is something you’ll see in many parts of our country. But one thing unique to this neighborhood are the vivid accounts of losing family members, in some cases as many as ten, in the ‘84 massacre. These were not comfortable conversations to have, neither for those who narrated their stories nor those who listened.

My first visit to the densely populated Widows’ Colony in Tilak Vihar, where the affected families were rehabilitated, was overwhelming. There are over 1200 families living in this colony. While facing their own fair share of unique problems, most of the people complain about the sordid conditions they have been living in. Poverty, lack of sanitation and hygiene is something you’ll see in many parts of our country. But one thing unique to this neighborhood are the vivid accounts of losing family members, in some cases as many as ten, in the ‘84 massacre. These were not comfortable conversations to have, neither for those who narrated their stories nor those who listened.
The first time I met Bhagi Kour, a mother who lost her husband in the massacre, was at her home. I was direct and upfront about the nature of my visit. I could sense that she did not really want me there. She was extremely kind and generous to me in our conversations, but she did not mince her words.

“When Indira Gandhi was murdered, all of us at Trilokpuri were saddened, but nobody expected that we would be so closely associated with the assassination”, said Bhagi Kour. 1984 changed her life forever.

Lakhshmi Kour, who has been living in the colony for the past 30 years as a widow, is testament to the change and suffering that the victims of the 1984 massacre victims have had to endure. She told me, “My husband was killed in front of me and we were looted of all that we had. Our boys’ hair was cut off and women raped. They lit up rubber tires and threw it around our homes. 30 years have passed but I still panic at times”.

When others like Bhagi Kour spoke, I could tell that their wounds were as fresh as they were 30 years back. Every year, November takes them back to 1984 and they don’t know what to do.

Lakshmi Kour, now in her late fifties, said, “Our families have been butchered and we are still caged in the memories of 1984, while the people responsible for this horrendous act are still free. Ask the women who had to run over their family members’ dead bodies to save themselves what they feel when they remember such incidents. No one came to empathize with us in our times of suffering and grief. All I ask is for some closure. Can anyone direct me towards my dead husband’s ashes? Where are his remains? Was he buried or was he cremated? Am I not a citizen? Who will answer my questions?”

Lakshmi Kour, now in her late fifties, said, “Our families have been butchered and we are still caged in the memories of 1984, while the people responsible for this horrendous act are still free. Ask the women who had to run over their family members’ dead bodies to save themselves what they feel when they remember such incidents. No one came to empathize with us in our times of suffering and grief. All I ask is for some closure. Can anyone direct me towards my dead husband’s ashes? Where are his remains? Was he buried or was he cremated? Am I not a citizen? Who will answer my questions?”
When asked if the government has helped them thus far, Bhagi Kour said, “There is no meaning to any inquiry unless the responsible people are punished. I’m sorry to say this, but nobody will understand what we are going through and no compensation can satisfy us.”

The plight of these women, awaiting justice for over three decades, reflects the sad state of human rights in our country, and the failure of the government machinery in delivering timely justice. Reopening all the cases that were closed by the police and ensuring justice is the only way to give hope to all the victims of 1984. Nothing less will do.

Three decades of Impunity

By Sanamdeep Singh Wazir (@sanamwazir) | Campaigner, Amnesty International India

In November 2014, on the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh massacre, Amnesty International India launched a public campaign demanding justice for the victims and survivors of an outrage that shook India’s conscience. Since then, the campaign has received the support of over six lakh people, mostly from Punjab and Delhi.

The objective of the campaign is for authorities to reopen the closed cases related to the 1984 Sikh massacre, and deliver justice to victims and survivors. By actively engaging with the authorities, mobilizing public opinion, and highlighting the continuing suffering faced by families, the campaign aimed to bring the issue back into public focus, and ensure that political parties treated it as a priority.

Between 31 October and 3 November 1984, thousands of Sikhs were murdered in brutal ways. Sikh men had their necks ringed with tyres filled with petrol or kerosene, and were set on fire. Many Sikh business establishments, homes, gurudwaras, schools and colleges were burned down, and whole-scale massacres took place in Trilokpuri, Sultanpuri and Mangolpuri neighbourhoods in Delhi.

After Delhi, Bihar witnessed the worst communal carnage, in cities including Bokaro, Patna, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bhagalpur, Jhumritalaya and Daulatganj. Sikh communities in Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were also affected.

In four days, over 3000 people, were slaughtered, raped and rendered homeless. According to official estimates, in Delhi alone, the death toll was 2733.

Civil society rose to the occasion. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) visited affected areas and published a report, Who are the Guilty? The report named Congress leaders who it said had led the massacre. It also said it had found evidence that the carnage was orchestrated.

The NGO Citizens For Democracy published another report, Truth About Delhi Violence: Report to The Nation, which said that it had found patterns in the violence. It said that the violence was not spontaneous, but organised by members of the Congress party, and “was meant primarily to arouse passions within the majority community – Hindu chauvinism – in order to consolidate Hindu votes”. Both civil society groups said the police in many cased had instigated the violence, or were merely bystanders.

On 19 November 1984, Rajiv Gandhi in a public speech in New Delhi, virtually justified the violence, saying, “When a big tree falls, the earth naturally shakes.” Eventually, under public pressure, an inquiry headed by Ved Marwah, the then-Additional Commissioner of Police, Delhi was instituted to look into the role of police officials during the massacre. Since then, at least two judicial commissions of inquiry and nine committees have been established, but justice has eluded the victims.

In February 2015, when the central government accepted the recommendations of a retired Supreme Court Judge and set up a Special Investigation team to reinvestigate closed cases, we at Amnesty India welcomed the move.

The SIT had a chance to finally deliver accountability for the thousands who suffered in the massacre. It raised hopes among victims and survivors that they would finally get justice. But the SIT’s lack of transparency so far has been disturbing.

The team was asked to submit a report in August 2015, within six months of its appointment, but since then it has received three extensions, the last one to August 2017.

Over the last few months, Amnesty International India has met many families who faced violence in 1984. One survivor told us that an FIR had been registered for the killing of her husband. She said she received a call from the SIT in September 2016, which – instead of asking about the details of the case – asked instead if she wanted to pursue her case at all.

According to a status report submitted by the SIT before the Supreme Court of India, it has scrutinized 293 cases, and pursued investigations in 59. Out of these 59 cases, it has completed investigations in 42 cases, of which it has closed 38 and filed chargesheets in four.

Four charge-sheets after over two years. It is beyond baffling that a team of 68 people, including an Inspector General of Police, a retired judge, an additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, four Assistant Commissioner of Police-ranked officers and 10 Inspectors, has made such little progress.

The carnage of 1984 remains a national shame, and the continuing impunity for the massacre has made a mockery of justice. The SIT provided a critical opportunity to set things right, but it seems to be wasting its chance. In some years, the eye witnesses of the 1984 massacre will no longer be alive. Even before their demise, though, the killings of 1984 are at risk of being forgotten.

4,00,000 voices and still counting.

“They say it has been more than 30 years so forget the 1984 massacres, but how can I? Not one day goes by without me thinking about it” — Bhaggi Kaur, survivor of 1984 Sikh massacres.

In November 1984, at least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed across four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Delhi.

Sikh men were dragged out of their homes by mobs and shot dead while others were hacked to death, or doused with petrol and burned alive. Numerous Sikh women were raped.

A number of official commissions of inquiry were appointed to investigate these massacres. While some of them found evidence of the compliance of police officials and political leaders from the Congress party in systematic attacks against members of the Sikh community, very few people were convicted in cases related to the violence. After the massacres, the Delhi police, citing lack of evidence, closed investigations into hundreds of cases. Investigations into many other cases, have not been completed even after 30 years. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have received any form of official punishment.

What did Amnesty do?

Amnesty International India launched a public campaign in October 2014 ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Massacre urging the Indian government to establish an independent team to reinvestigate the cases, and demanding that authorities bring to justice all those responsible for the massacre – whether they are political leaders, police or government officials.
From October 2014 to March 2015, more than 400,000 people across India joined Amnesty India’s campaign by giving ‘missed calls’ on their phones. An online petition page was created and promoted on Amnesty India’s website and promoted through social media platforms. All the signatures were collected and submitted to the Union Law Minister in November 2014. Eminent people like Rabbi Shergil, Gurpreet Ghuggi, Binnu Dhillon, Savita Bhatti, and Nirmal Kaur also supported the campaign.

In March 2015, Amnesty India organized a letter writing event in Delhi where the widows of the victims of the 1984 Sikh massacre wrote letters to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding justice.

An Amnesty International India team also met the Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal on 24 April 2015 and urged him to ask the Union Home Ministry to deliver speedy justice for the 1984 massacre.

What next?

In February 2015, the Union Home Ministry announced the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and asked it to submit its investigation report within six months. The mandate of this team, including its ability to file charges, have not been made public. Multiple inquiries have been constituted in the past which could only recommend action. The reports they submitted have not led to justice for the survivors.

In April 2015, Amnesty International India filed an RTI (Right to information) application to the Ministry of Home Affairs asking for information about the mandate and terms of reference of the Special Investigation Team, and a copy of the report of the Justice Mathur Committee, which had looked at the possibility of setting up an SIT and submitted its report to the central government in January 2015.

UPDATERTI response from Ministry of Home Affairs on SIT probe for 1984 Sikh Massacre

Amnesty International India will continue to mobilize more people and continue campaigning to ensure that justice does not continue to be denied.

Young Activists join Survivors of 1984 Sikh Massacre to Continue Fight for Justice

Young activists joined survivors of the 1984 Sikh massacre and other civil society leaders to discuss the lessons learnt from the long and arduous struggle for justice and accountability for the crimes of committed during the 1984 Sikh massacre.

The discussions were part of Youth Conference 2017, a new initiative by Amnesty International India to mobilise wider support for truth and accountability movements in India. This conference was aimed at raising awareness among the youth regarding the 1984 Sikh massacre as well as encouraging them to campaign for such causes. This conference comes days ahead of the next reporting deadline of the Union government-appointed Special Investigations Team tasked with reinvestigated closed cases related to the massacre.

This conference hosted a series of panels discussing issues ranging from politics and mob mentality, role of people’s movements and state accountability. The young activists who are all college students shared their views about a human rights tragedy that took place before they were born but has had such a huge impact on Indian politics.

“The young must realise that the future will be theirs fully only when the past has been put behind in a just and transparent way,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.
Exploring the relation between politics and mob violence, Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of the Caravan, said: “The ruling party workers mobilised all available resources to create a climate of fear and present the entire Sikh community as the enemy. This instigation of the mob for targeted killing has been since imbibed and institutionalised by other political forces in India.”

Talking about state accountability, Amnesty International India campaigner Sanam Sutirath Wazir said, “the Youth Conference is an effort to encourage the young people to talk about the massacre. It is also to remind the SIT that after three extensions, it must present its findings.”

“Justice denied in one instance becomes the basis for injustice in other instances. We have to fight against the normalisation of injustice. It is a matter of shame that no one has been held accountable for the anti-Sikh pogrom. The basis of a democracy is justice and love, not hatred and impunity,” said student activist Shehla Rashid.

Avijit Singh, a student panelist at the conference said, “We must come together in large numbers to demand justice for the 1984 Sikh massacre victims. This cannot be simply forgotten.” said.
The Youth Conference stands as a reminder to our political leaders that not only the survivors of the massacre but also young leaders and civil society demand that justice be served at the earliest.
Amnesty International India launched its 1984 Sikh massacre campaign in October 2014 and since then over six lakh people from across India have supported and joined this campaign. Last year, Amnesty International India launched Conversations’ 84, a series of talks in colleges across Delhi, focused on the human rights violations committed during the 1984 Sikh massacre.

Background Information:

At least 3,000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, in 1984 over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Yet only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice.

The Delhi Police closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacres, citing lack of evidence. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have been punished.

Sikh massacre victims await justice in India, 25 years on

Twenty-five years after the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, the country’s government has failed to bring to justice those responsible. On Thursday, a Delhi Court deferred ruling on the case against Jagdish Tytler, a prominent member of the Indian parliament at the time of the massacres, after the Indian Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) said it could not produce evidence against him. The session has been postponed until 28-29 April. “The CBI’s admission of failure to gather sufficient evidence could very possibly lead to the court clearing Tytler of all charges – in effect, ending the judicial process against any of those accused of responsibility for the 1984 massacres,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, Amnesty International’s South Asia researcher. Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were accused of having incited mobs to kill members of the Sikh community. Tytler has been a minister in India’s federal government several times, but resigned as minister in 2005 after a commission of inquiry recommended further investigation into his and Kumar’s alleged role in the massacres. An appeal in a Delhi court is pending against the acquittal of Kumar. The two are now standing as Congress Party candidates in the Indian parliamentary elections to be held in Delhi on 7 May 2009. “It has been 25 years since the massacre and only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice. It is a national disgrace,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan. At least 3,000 Sikhs were murdered over the course of four days in retaliation for the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October 1984. “The fact that almost 3,000 people can be murdered without anyone being brought to justice is offensive to any notion of justice and should be an embarrassment to the Indian government,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan. The Indian government only filed 587 cases of criminal wrongdoing after the massacre. It has closed investigations into many more cases, citing lack of evidence. “For the Indian government to dismiss these cases due to lack of evidence is farcical. The various agencies responsible for carrying out the investigations failed to carry out the most cursory of tasks – including recording eyewitness and survivor statements,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan. There have been nine commissions of inquiry into the killings in the past 25 years. Only 25 people have been convicted for taking part in the killings. Most of the 72 police officers who were charged with dereliction of duty and offering protection to the attackers were exonerated; only four officers received any form of official punishment, including a reduction in their pensions. “After 25 years and nine commissions of inquiry, the Indian government can and should do better. They must now re-open each case and properly investigate, with a view to finally bringing justice and closure to the victims and survivors of this terrible massacre.” In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the violence against Sikhs in 1984 and said criminal cases against individuals named in the ninth Commission of Inquiry report would be re-opened and re-examined “within the ambit of law”. India’s External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who was then Defence Minister, said that there would be investigations by the appropriate authorities into specific findings against those named in the report. “For the victims and survivors of the 1984 massacres, this has been an excruciating process of being promised justice and watching the government renege on its promises again and again,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan. “All those responsible for the massacre must be brought to justice – whether they are political leaders, police or government officials.”

Survivors of 1984 Sikh massacre paint ‘Wall of Hope’ to memorialize their struggle

Survivors of the 1984 Sikh massacre and their supporters came together to paint a ‘Wall of Hope’ in Chandigarh today to memorialize their struggle and 32 year-long wait for justice.

The event was held as part of an Amnesty International India campaign demanding justice for the brutal killings of Sikh men, women and children in 1984.

“Less than three weeks from now, the deadline for the Special Investigation Team set up to reinvestigate closed cases related to the Sikh massacre will pass,” said Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Campaigner at Amnesty International India.

“While the SIT has said it will reopen 58 cases, it has not filed charges in a single case so far, and its functioning has not been transparent. It has already received two extensions.”
State legislative assembly elections will be held in Punjab on 4 February.

“It is imperative that the new state government supports the efforts of the survivors to finally get justice. Candidates must keep their promises to the survivors,” said Sanam Wazir.

Since November 2014, over 600,000 people, mainly from Punjab, have supported Amnesty International India’s campaign to demand justice for the 1984 Sikh massacre. Some survivors of the massacre joined Amnesty International India members and artist Ullas Hydoor to paint the “Wall of Hope” at Sector 28A, Chandigarh.

“We hope this wall will stand as a reminder that the victims of the 1984 Sikh massacre have not lost their hope for justice,” said Sanam Wazir.

Amnesty International India is organizing a youth conference on 31 January in Delhi, where young people from Delhi and Punjab will discuss the 1984 Sikh massacre with members of civil society. In March, representatives from Amnesty International India and a youth delegation will meet the newly elected government of Punjab.

Background Information:

At least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, in 1984 over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Yet only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice.

The Delhi Police closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacres, citing lack of evidence. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have been punished.

 Accountability still missing for 1984 Sikh massacre

A Special Investigaion Team (SIT) formed by the central government must not waste the opportunity to deliver justice for the 1984 Sikh massacre, said Amnesty International India today at the Chandigarh launch of a campaign digest on the massacre.

Titled “32 years and waiting: An era of injustice for the 1984 Sikh massacre’’, the campaign digest outlines the cover up that followed the massacre and the status of various official investigations over the last 32 years. The digest also carries personal accounts of survivors.

The Delhi police had closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacre, citing a lack of evidence. A special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the central government in January 2015 to re-investigate cases related to the massacre, has made slow progress. In November, it had identified 51 cases for reinvestigation.

“The SIT raised hopes among victims and survivors that they would finally get justice. But the SIT’s apparent lack of transparency so far has been disturbing,” said Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Campaigner at Amnesty International India.

The SIT has the authority to file charges against accused persons where there is sufficient available evidence. It was originally given six months to complete this exercise, but received extensions in August 2015 and August 2016. It is now slated to complete its investigation in February 2017, two years after it was set up.

In June 2016, Amnesty International India and a range of prominent activists, journalists, lawyers and political leaders made a series of recommendations related to effective investigation, comprehensive reparations and legal reforms, to be submitted to the Ministry of Home affairs.

Since November 2014, over 600,000 people in India have supported Amnesty International India’s campaign demanding justice for the victims of the massacre.
A short film on the life of Darshan Kaur, a survivor of the massacre, was also screened at the event. Darshan Kaur, who was 21 years old during the violence, lost her husband and 12 relatives.
Background Information:

At least 3000 Sikh men, women and children were killed, mainly in Delhi, in 1984 over the course of four days of killing and looting that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Yet only a tiny fraction of those responsible have been brought to justice.

The Delhi Police closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacres, citing lack of evidence. Only a handful of police personnel charged with neglecting their duty and offering protection to the attackers have been punished.

Civil society renews call for accountability for 1984 Sikh massacre

A range of prominent activists, journalists, lawyers and political leaders called on the government to deliver justice & reparation for the survivors of the 1984 Sikh massacre at an event organized by Amnesty International India in New Delhi today.

‘Insaaf84’ was conducted as part of Amnesty International India’s two-year long campaign ‘Chaurasi Ki Na Insaafi’. Among those who attended were survivors Darshan Kaur and Mohan Singh; former judges Markandey Katju, Rajinder Sachar and Anil Dev Singh; author Kuldip Nayar; human rights lawyers H.S. Phoolka and Vrinda Grover; former Deputy Commissioner of Police (Delhi) Amod Kanth, and journalists Siddharth Varadarajan, Seema Mustafa and Hartosh Singh Bal.

Also present were actor Savita Bhatti; political activist Yogendra Yadav; former MP Tarlochan Singh; Kanwar Sandhu of the Aam Aadmi Party, Manjeet Singh GK of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and Hannan Mollah of the Communist Party of India (Marxist); academics Dilip Simeon, A.S. Narang; and writer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.

Amnesty International India and civil society members made a series of recommendations related to effective investigations, comprehensive remedy and reparation, and legal and police reform, to be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Film director Mahesh Bhatt, historian Uma Chakravarti and writer Farah Naqvi also contributed to drafting the recommendations.

“The guilty have still not been punished even 32 years after this most brutal crime was committed…The effort of Amnesty International to focus attention on the issue is a significant step in that direction,” said Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, in a written statement.

“The survivors and victims of 1984 have not received justice primarily because successive governments have failed to take action despite overwhelming evidence of political and police complicity,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.

The Delhi police had closed investigations into hundreds of cases after the massacre, citing a lack of evidence. On 16 June, a special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the central government in January 2015 to re-investigate cases related to the massacre published newspaper advertisements about the progress it had made in 22 cases.

H.S Phoolka, the lawyer leading legal representation for several victims and survivors, said, “Nearly a year and a half after the SIT was set up, it has not met a single survivor or witness. We are only hearing now that they plan to reopen a few cases.”

“The government, through the SIT, has another chance to finally deliver justice for the thousands who suffered in 1984. It must not waste this opportunity,” said Aakar Patel.

“Accountability of persons in public office and in positions of authority is imperative for justice for the 1984 survivors. And for this, India needs to adopt elements of modern criminal jurisprudence,” said Vrinda Grover, human rights lawyer.

Amnesty International India also released a campaign digest titled “31 Years and Waiting: An era of injustice for the 1984 Sikh Massacre’, which outlines the cover-up that followed the massacre and the status of various official investigations over the last 31 years.

Campaign Digest

Link

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Amnesty International India along with other civil society members made a series of recommendations to the government to bring accountability for the survivors of 1984 Sikh massacre.

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