The Ghalughara – 1984
Questions that Remain Unanswered
Justice (Retd.) Ranjit Singh Narula*
[* Eminent jurist and former Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court. Article reproduced from The Sikh Review, September 2000]
The Government of Delhi State has, by a Notification dated May 08, 2000, assigned to Justice Nanavati all matters relating to the 1984 massacre of Sikhs. Here are some key Questions for the Commission.
Once I thought to write an article on the 1984 genocide of Sikhs but I have, time and again, restrained myself, as the article would forewarn the culprits because my reference to various aspects of the case may lead to destruction of even the remaining relevant records.
Here are some of the questions the Commission – indeed the Government – must answer.
1. The official Telex message sent at about 11 A.M. on 31.10.84 to Indian Embassies and High Commissions abroad mentioned “Two Sikh Guards and a clean-shaven” as the assassins of Indira Gandhi. Who was the third man “the clean shaven” one ?
2. Why was the large number of Sikh police personnel taken off duty, and sent to the barracks on the 31st October when no one could see any risk to their lives ? Why were they disarmed?
3. Who was the clearly visible and identifiable man who continued to be shown on the Doordarshan television throughout the first part of October 31-Nov. 1 night (standing at the threshold of the room where lay the dead body of Indira Gandhi for public view) shouting: “Sardar Qaum ke ghaddar” and “Khoon ka Badla Khoon” – openly inciting spilling of Sikh blood.
4. Why no action has been taken against that man, till date, for openly spreading disaffection between communities and provoking bloodshed of identifiable persons ?
5. What happened at the meeting held in P.M. Rajiv Gandhi’s house on the evening of October 31? Who were present there? Official records are stated to refer to such a meeting and the presence of the Govt. and police officials therein.
6. Some police officers – above DSP level were called by wireless messages to attend a meeting at a Minister’s (H.K.L. Bhagat’s) house late on Oct. 31. Who ordered the meeting, how much time was spent in the meeting, who addressed the meeting, and for what purpose?
7. Who accompanied Rajiv Gandhi on the night between 31.10.1984 and 1.11.1984 when he – admittedly – went around East Delhi with HKL Bhagat, and others, for a short time?
8. Photographs and news published in newspapers and magazines showed that wherever any Sikh properties were on fire, the fire brigade showered the water on the adjoining non-Sikh properties – and not on the burning ones. What action has been taken against the fire brigade people for this deliberate mischief and wanton disregard of duty? What was it due to?
9. Was any inquiry held into the deployment of D.T.U. (PSU) drivers for ferrying rioters from place to place in official buses, to which fact reference was made in the press and some police reports? Who organized the drivers and provided for fuel?
10. Why did the police take away even the kirpans of the Sikhs from their houses (violating their Constitutional right) to defend themselves against organized violence? Why was this continued even after the first set of disarmed defenders was fatally attacked?
11. How was it that all the Delhi police stations adopted the patently illegal method of not recording separate reports (FIRs) of separate complaints, but compressed all the complaint of murders into a single case of riot in the area? What action has been taken against the delinquent officials?
12. When at 12.23 P.M. on 1.11.84, a wireless message from East Dist. Central Police Room (office of DCP Sewa Dass) was received by SHO Kalyanpuri (Surbir Singh) to the effect that people had set fire to the Gurdwara, why was the message confined to sending the fire brigade and why was police force not sent to arrest the “people” who were roaming about during curfew with cans of petrol?
13. Why did the SHO Kalyanpuri not take any police action except sending back the wireless message that “information has been sent” (to the fire brigade)?
14. When at 12.40 P.M. on Nov. 01. 1984 a wireless message was sent by Surbir Singh, SHO to his Kalyanpuri police station to reach Block No.11 Kalyanpuri, why did police not rush to the spot to control the killings and looting?
15. Why was neither any adequate police action taken nor serious notice taken of the alarming wireless message sent at 14.35 hours, and again at 15.10 hours on November 01, to SHO Kalyanpuri, that there was serious trouble in Blocks 32 and 36 of Tirlokpuri, where the Gurdwara and Sikh shops were being put to fire and the position was serious? Why was extra force not called/sent to the spot from the police lines or Central Area or from non-Sikh areas which were quiet?
16. Same questions as No. 15 above arise, with greater force, to the situation reported at 15.10 hours on Nov. 01 by East District Control Room to the area police station, Kalyanpuri, by wireless, specifically reporting that extensive loss of life and property was taking place in Blocks 32 and 36 of Tirlokpuri? Why was army not called by higher-ups when every minute report was being received by them?
17. Why did none of the scores of wireless messages refer to the target (Sikhs) of all the killings or looting?
18. Why was seriousness not attached to the situation when wireless messages started pouring in from 18.30 hours on Nov. 01 onwards, about dead bodies lying on the roads? Why was the common feature of dead bodies being of Sikhs not brought on record?
19. Why were the higher-up police and executive officers – upto the Home Minister, Narasimha Rao, paralyzed when the situation in Kalyanpuri and Tirlokpuri (in East Delhi) reporting: (a) the butchering and murders of persons on large scale was reported on Wireless at 17.31 hours; and again (b) when DCP R.K. Sharma’s wireless message was received at 18.58 hours on Nov. 01 reporting about 200 persons having already been killed in Tirlokpuri alone?
20. Was this deliberate non-action not due to the publicly expressed view of the then P.M. that all this was the natural rumbling caused by the “fall of a Big Tree”?
21. In spite of details of the wholesale killings of Sikhs reaching highest quarters by late night on Nov. 01, why no preventive measures were taken on the following two days?
22. Why, and by whom, was the request of Commissioner of Police, dated October 31, to call Army on Nov. 1 turned down? Why was calling Army postponed even on Nov. 01 after the mayhem had already started?
23. Why did no Govt. officials contradict the statements made by Congress leader Dharam Dutt Shastri (who has been given State security at the cost of tax payers like us) in police station (reported in Indian Express) that police should not arrest the people who resorted to the violence, as they were not criminals, but respectable persons. Who were those “respectable persons”?
24. Who and why was public notice (report in Indian Express) issued on or about 5.11.1984 that persons who had stolen property from Sikh homes in their possession should place them in the street corners, so that the owners can take it back? The obvious object was to destroy evidence of legal presumption that the holder of looted (stolen) property had looted it.
25. When Additional Commissioner of Police, Ved Marwah, IPS, started inquiry into the conduct of erring police officers, and they were letting out the truth, why was he not allowed to continue the inquiry and to make his report?
26. What has happened to the notes of the true statements made before Ved Marwah unofficially?
27. Why did government not oppose the prayer for stay of inquiry made by Brahmanand – a Congress stooge – in his Writ Petition heard by Justice Maharaj Krishan of Delhi High Court?
28. When Army units from Meerut side reached borders of Delhi, and it was found that the units had some companies of Sikhs, they were stopped from being deployed. Who ordered this – and why?
29. How is it that when their substitutes were called from elsewhere, there was no Sikh unit therein?
30. When, instead of holding departmental proceedings, criminal cases were filed against some policemen under the Police Act, and/or Criminal Penal Code, why was Govt. sanction not first obtained, when the law in that respect under Section 197 Cr. P. C. is clear?
31. When such cases were dismissed “for want of sanction” why did the Govt. not promptly give sanction for prosecution? Alternatively, why did the Govt. not resume the departmental proceedings which had been stayed suo moto because the cases had been filed in court?
32. Why, instead of following at least any one of the two logical courses, (viz. grant sanction and/or resume departmental proceedings), the Govt. went up in patently useless Criminal Revision petitions to the High Court and kept them pending for a long time, and then conceded that sanction was indeed necessary, after having, in the meantime, dropped the departmental proceedings?
33. When the Kusum Lata Committee (appointed by the Govt.) found about 72 police officers to be guilty of crimes and serious dereliction of duty, why no action was taken against them? On the contrary, why were those officers given promotions?
34. When, on the eve of Punjab elections (1991) Narasimha Rao, then Prime Minister, gave a press statement that action would be taken against the alleged guilty police officers, one such officer made a press statement threatening to speak out the truth if action was initiated against him by the Govt., that was the end of the action announced by then P.M. Why?
35. What was “Operation Shanti”? When was it conceived and worked out?
36. How is it that hundreds of attackers drawn from different parts of Delhi and Haryana appeared, armed with iron rods of same material and size? Why have these rods not been recovered from them after the killings?
There are about one hundred other questions — to ask those questions is to answer them!
The record is full of material to expose the reality. For example, there is a videotape showing why Satnami Bai, having identified HKL Bhagat in the earlier hearing, refused to identify him in court after she had been drugged.
I have given here an indication so that in case of fresh independent inquiry, if I am no more on the scene, this indictment can be published and pursued.