THE World Sikh Organization of Canada said on Thursday that it welcomes recent moves by India’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in calling for the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the 1984 Sikh genocide and recommending the release of Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar who has been languishing in prison for close to 20 years.
On Wednesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met with Delhi Lt.-Governor Najeeb Jung and asked him to order a SIT probe into the 1984 genocide of Sikhs. Thousands of Sikhs were killed in Delhi and across India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. There have been very few convictions of those responsible for the killings and many senior Congress leaders implicated in leading the mobs have escaped prosecution.
The call for a SIT comes following Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s recent interview to a TV channel in which he acknowledged Congress members were “probably” involved in the massacres.
In another welcome move, Chief Minister Kejriwal has also called for the release of Bhullar. Bhullar who has been in custody since 1995, was sentenced to death in August 2001 for “plotting terror attacks.” Bhullar’s conviction was based upon an alleged confession made in police custody which he claims was extracted under torture and which he subsequently retracted. None of the 133 prosecution witnesses identified Bhullar. Justice MB Shah, the senior justice of the three-member panel bench which heard his appeal at the Indian Supreme Court, acquitted him while the remaining two judges confirmed his conviction and sentenced him to death. Bhullar’s mercy petition was dismissed in 2011 after a lapse of over eight years, during which time he became mentally ill. He is currently being held in a mental hospital.
WSO President Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said: “The recent moves by the AAP have been warmly received by the Sikh community. Although both the Congress and BJP have at various times both formed governments at the Centre and in Delhi since 1984, it is the AAP which has taken a major step to get to the truth of the Sikh genocide. It’s unfortunate that after almost 30 years and after nine inquiry commissions, a proper investigation still has not taken place. The establishment of a SIT would be a promising development to secure justice for the victims of 1984.”
WSO’s Senior Policy Advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said: “The AAP have consistently given Sikh issues a place in their agenda and they have shown a genuine concern for the sentiments of the Sikh community. We are hopeful that Chief Minister Kejriwal will show how politics can be done differently in India.”