Thousands call for justice for victims of 1984 Sikh massacres
India: 1 November 2014 10:13 am
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.