New Delhi : A Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Home Ministry will reopen at least 75 cases related to the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 in the wake of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination, an official source said today, , a decision that comes months ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab, a Home Ministry official said. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on June 6 written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, terming the SIT an "eyewash".
A total of 3,325 people were killed in the riots. Delhi alone accounted for 2,733 deaths while the rest occurred in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states. Delhi Police had closed 241 cases citing lack of evidence. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. The riots are considered to be one of the most violent cases of communal violence after Partition in 1947. The Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its 2011 World Report, had stated: "The government has yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs that followed the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Delivery of justice for mass violence against Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-93 and in Gujarat in 2002 has been slow."
The GP Mathur committee, set up by Modi in 2014, had recommended the Centre to look into the various Sikh grievances in its January 2015 report. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) GP Mathur, had submitted its report to Union home minister Rajnath Singh and recommended a fresh probe. In February 2015, the Centre constituted a three-member SIT chaired by Pramod Asthana, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1986 batch. District and Sessions court judge Rakesh Kumar and additional deputy commissioner of police Kumar Gyanesh were the other members. The SIT was ordered to submit its recommendations within six months ,a deadline that has overshot by almost a year now. In May 2016, the Centre approved increased compensation to 1,020 families, hit by the riots, who migrated to Punjab from different parts of the country.
Punjab has been asked to reopen the cases for verification that will allow families to come forward and claim the enhanced compensation of Rs 2 lakh. Delhi had 237 anti-Sikh riot cases that were closed because of non-availability of victims or lack of evidence. After reviewing their documents, it has been decided to re-examine about 75 cases so far. Since the Modi government came to power, different Sikh groups have demanded reopening of cases. It has been 32 years since the riots and 10 commissions and committees have been formed. It was a long-standing demand of the Sikh community that an SIT be set up.