‘The BJP has supported the issue of justice to the victims of 1984 genocide for 30 years and it also used this issue as a shield for 2002 Gujarat riots’, alleges lawyer representing the victims
New Delhi: Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to counter the allegations of intolerance being levelled against his party and government by attacking the Congress for orchestrating the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, who has been fighting for justice for the victims, urged him to look beyond using the riots as a weapon to attack his opponents, and instead to provide justice to the victims.
While addressing an election rally in Purnea in Bihar on November 2, Modi asked: “Do you remember what happened in Delhi on November 2, 1984? Sikhs were killed. There were serious charges against Congress leaders.” The Prime Minister went on to add that it was “ironical that Congress is now talking about tolerance”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is right in saying that the Congress should hang its head in shame for the killing of Sikhs in 1984”, Phoolka said, adding: “But Modiji, now you are in power, why during the time of your government are the culprits being given a clean chit? Why has the Special Investigation Team formed by your government not reopened a single case in nine months? Why have no efforts been made by your government in the past year and a half to secure justice for the victims?”
Phoolka, who had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Punjab on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket but quit the party earlier this year to pursue the cases of the riot victims, also accused the BJP of publicising the issue only for political gains: “The BJP has supported the issue of justice to the victims of 1984 genocide for 30 years and it also used this issue as a shield for 2002 Gujarat riots. It was expected that when BJP comes in power it will deliver its promise. Unfortunately, the Modi Government has just continued to use this as a weapon for Congress bashing and has done nothing to secure justice for the victims.”
For instance, Phoolka said, the Modi government gave a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in 2014 while the missing chargesheet in the case of another Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar, has still not been filed in court. “If this government is serious, it should forthwith arrest Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar,” he said.
Last week, on the 31st anniversary of the riots, Phoolka wrote to the Jathedar of the Akal Takht about the mass rape of Sikh women during 1984. Stating that not a single person had been punished for rape, he urged the Jathedar to raise the issue with the Central government and arrange a meeting of concerned MPs with the Prime Minister, giving the latter a month’s time to take steps in the matter.
Phoolka’s statement, particularly with regard to the SIT’s failure to reopen cases, may also have political ramifications as Punjab is headed for Assembly elections in a little over a year from now.
Last week, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal accused the Centre of pre-emptively constituting an SIT just before his government was sworn in for the second time – not to probe the riots but because it was afraid that AAP would bring the guilty to book. “During our 49-day regime we had ordered the constitution of an SIT which wasn’t formed in 30 years. But when we resigned from the government, it was cancelled. However, when we formed the government again on February 14, just a day before that, the Central government constituted an SIT because they were scared that when [we] will come to power, all those who are guilty will be booked.” Kejriwal declared that his government would get the legality of the Centre’s move examined.