By Muslim Mirror Staff
New Delhi: The Patiala House Court today awarded the first death sentence in a case relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre. Out of the two convicts, one was awarded the death penalty, while the second has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
More than 2,000 Sikhs were killed in the violence in 1984. Reacting over the judgement, senior lawyer H S Phoolka said “Thanks to Hon’ble Judge Ajay Pandey for this bold decision. Accused Yashpal is awarded Death & accused Naresh is awarded Life Imprisonment. ”
Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey had convicted Yashpal Singh and his co-accused Naresh Sherawat for killing two Sikh men in Mahipalpur in South Delhi during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The Court had pronounced its judgment holding the two accused guilty on November 14, 34 years after the targeted killings of Sikhs took place. The order for quantum of punishment was reserved for today.
Police personnel were heavily deployed at the Patiala House Court premises ahead of the sentencing to prevent any untoward incident. The verdict on sentencing was pronounced in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
The case concerns the killing of two men – Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh – in South Delhi on November 1, 1984. The complaint in the case was filed by the brother of Hardev Singh.
The case was closed in 1994, with the Delhi Police citing lack of evidence. However, the same was reopened by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) formed on directions of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to probe serious cases further.
The SIT had filed its charge sheet in the case in January 2017 and the two accused were subsequently convicted on November 14 this year. The convicts were found guilty under Sections 302 (Murder), 307 (Attempt to Murder), 324 (Voluntarily causing Hurt by dangerous weapons), and 395 (Dacoity), 436 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance), and 452 (House-trespass for hurt, assault), all read with Section 149 of the IPC.
The Court has also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lac for each death caused on each of the convicts which sums up to Rs 20 lakh to be paid by each convict. The fine is to be paid as compensation to the family of the two victims.
An additional fine of Rs 15 lac each is imposed on the convicts under various other sections they are held guilty under.
During the arguments on quantum of punishment, the SIT had sought capital punishment for both the convicts on the ground that the crime was a part of the genocide against the members of the Sikh community. It was contended that this fell in the category of “rarest of the rare cases”.
The Accused in the case were represented by Advocate OP Sharma while the surviving victims/complainants were represented by Advocates Harpreet Singh Hora and Gurbaksh Singh. Additional Public Prosecutors SK Kain, Gaurav Singh and APP Surendra Mohit Singh appeared for the SIT.
The SIT is investigating eight cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Among the accused is Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, against whom an investigation is pending. Charge sheets have been filed in five other cases.