India's Justice, or rather lack of an adequate Justice System

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India's Justice, or rather lack of an adequate Justice System

A society can be judged by how it treats its minorities


Conviction of Sajjan Kumar demonstrates how slowly the wheels of justice move for minorities in India

Nevertheless, justice has hardly been done if we consider the quantum of punishment, the time it took to bring closure, and the intergenerational damage that this catastrophe has caused. 

First of all, what Kumar and his colleagues did was no less than an act of terrorism.

Though Sikh extremists were dealt with firmly when the army was used to attack the Golden Temple Complex, the police machinery openly sided with the goons who went after Sikhs.

The army wasn’t pressed into service immediately when Sikhs needed it the most.

The Delhi High Court Judgement has proved beyond doubt that the police have been protecting Kumar for all these years by failing to register a case against him and even tampering with the evidence.

Details in the judgment suggest that the police either remained indifferent to the violence by refusing to protect the victims, or they shamelessly participated in the massacre. Contrast this against the extrajudicial murders of Sikh extremists by the police in the name of national security right under the patronage of the state.

It is well documented how police and security forces wiped out the Sikh militancy in Punjab by using excessive force and killing alleged extremists in staged shootouts.   

Secondly, Kumar has been convicted after 34 years, whereas the assassins of Gandhi were convicted within four years.

While Beant Singh was shot to death immediately after the murder of Gandhi, Satwant Singh was hanged alongside conspirator Kehar Singh in 1989. That the entire Sikh community was punished is a different story.

Notably, Kehar Singh wasn’t directly involved in the assassination. He was the uncle of Beant Singh. It is believed that he provoked Beant Singh to murder her, though the evidence against him wasn’t conclusive.

Yet he was hanged for conspiracy. This was despite the fact that his guilt wasn’t sufficiently proven.

The question therefore arises that if Kehar Singh could be hanged for conspiracy, why did Kumar not also receive the death sentence?

This is not to suggest that I support death sentences. But I do want to question the double standards being applied in similar situations.

How come someone accused of conspiring in the murder of one political leader gets a death sentence whereas someone who masterminded mass murder gets life imprisonment? 

Thirdly, for all these years the victims’ families have been forced to live in penury and many orphaned kids took to drugs or petty crime. The women who were raped during the violence hardly received any justice.

The social trauma resulted in broken homes, domestic violence, and substance abuse. No court of law can ever compensate for this.

Lastly, the massacre has fuelled more political violence. Some of those who survived were forced to join the ranks of militants. Nirpreet Kaur herself became part of an extremist group that wanted to establish a separate Sikh state.

She once told me during a radio interview that she wanted to avenge the death of her father and this is what prompted her to join a militant organization.

During her incarceration in New Delhi's Tihar Jail, she came under the influence of a senior jail police officer, Kiran Bedi, who tried to reform prisoners through a more humanistic approach. This changed the course of her life


UAE Sikhs 'overwhelmed' by India court ruling on bloody 1984 riots

Residents hope Delhi High Court ruling will bring others to justice for the killings thousands of Sikhs in India

- see the link for the pic

A fleet of Sikh owned cars burn after being set on fire by rioting Hindus in downtown New Delhi on November 1, 1984, near Parliament Square. Violence all over the country and in the capital broke out following the killing of Prime Minister Indira Gandi. Peter Kemp / AP


Rajiv Gandhi is guilty—and nearly 35 years later, India's Congress party needs to admit this


  • Former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's henchman have come under fire for orchestrated attacks on Sikhs in 1984, but any role he may have played has gone largely unnoticed in the international media.

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  • Former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's henchman have come under fire for orchestrated attacks on Sikhs in 1984, but any role he may have played has gone largely unnoticed in the international media.BART MOLENDIJK/ANEFO/NATIONAAL ARCHIEF

On December 17, two very conflicting signals emanated from the world’s so-called largest democracy.  


While the Delhi High Court pronounced one accused involved in the 1984 Sikh massacre guilty, another who's at the centre of similar allegations was sworn in as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards at her official residence in New Delhi on October 31, 1984. 

The assassins were enraged at the army attack in June of that year on the Golden Temple complex—the holiest shrine of Sikhs. The controversial military operation was ordered by Gandhi to flush out a handful of religious extremists who had stockpiled arms inside the place of worship.

Following her murder, activists belonging to Gandhi’s Congress party organized an anti-Sikh pogrom in different parts of the country. In New Delhi alone, close to 3,000 people died.

Congress leaders were seen instigating mobs that were supplied with kerosene and tires to burn Sikh men alive. Sikh women were gang-raped during the violence. Their homes, businesses, and gurdwaras were burned.  

While Sajjan Kumar was convicted and given a life sentence—after 34 years—for conspiracy in the murders and sacrilege of a Sikh temple, Kamal Nath wasn’t even charged. This in spite of the fact that both were seen at the trouble spots.

Nath has now taken charge of chief minister’s office in Madhya Pradesh.

Notably, the police that shamelessly connived with the mobs tried to shield all Congress leaders involved. They either refused to file criminal cases against senior politicians or tampered with evidence and testimonies. That is the reason, why it took so long for the courts to finally convict Kumar, whereas Nath remains unpunished.

Long-time Congress politician Sajjan Kumar could spend the rest of his life in jail for his role in an anti-Sikh pogrom.

Long-time Congress politician Sajjan Kumar could spend the rest of his life in jail for his role in an anti-Sikh pogrom.


Why did Rajiv Gandhi not intervene?

But someone remains unindicted who is much taller in stature and position than these two individuals. 

There is enough evidence available in public domain against the late Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi and who succeeded her as the prime minister. His complicity made it even more difficult to bring people like Kumar and Nath to justice.

That explains why Rahul Gandhi, his son and the current Congress party leader, continues to be on then defensive whenever his party is grilled on the inconvenient issue of the 1984 massacres.

That he refuses to acknowledge the party’s involvement in the massacre has to do with his own father's links to one of the worst massacres in post-British India. By admitting that, Rahul Gandhi would not only rupture the reputation of his father, but also the image of his party, which claims to be secular. This is often held up in contrast to the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Recent developments have only made matter worse for Rahul Gandhi. Though Kumar has resigned from the party after his conviction in an attempt to save it from embarrassment, Nath’s appointment as the chief minister has eclipsed the “secular" image of the Congress.

While it is obvious that Rahul Gandhi would never admit that his father was involved in crimes against humanity, the facts speak for themselves.