A major rift has been created over the issue of justice for the victims of riots in 1984 following former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
Senior lawyer H.S. Phoolka, who has been spearheading the fight for justice for the victims, offered to withdraw from all riot cases on Wednesday. He came to this decision after a major tiff with the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.
Phoolka is “pained by a statement” by committee president P.S. Sarna stating that he was “keeping the cases alive for personal benefit”.
It was Phoolka who forced a closer look into the roles of Congress leaders H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler when the manner of probe agencies was suspect. A court upheld CBI’s clean chit to Tytler. But two days ago, the Delhi High Court gave the go ahead for Kumar’s trial for murder. Bhagat, indicted by Nanavati Commission, died during the trial.
Although Phoolka announced his decision to quit on Wednesday morning, by evening he issued a statement saying he deferred the decision till July 26 “following a request” by the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, who has summoned Sarna for a meeting on Monday.
“I have not charged a single penny from the victims. I’m offering to quit as these allegations have disturbed me. When Sikh leaders question my integrity, there is no point continuing,” said Phoolka.
He also alleged, “Sarna said when I appeared before the Nanavati Commission for four years, the committee spent Rs 1.09 crore. He calls it a waste as no benefit came out of it to the Sikh community.”
Talking to HT, Sarna denied all statements and said the allegations could have arisen out of the differences between him and Phoolka over the latter’s proposal to file a complaint against Congress leader Kamal Nath in connection with killings near Rakabganj Gurudwara.
“Since Nath was absolved by the Nanavati Commission, I was unconvinced about the suggestion,” Sarna said.
K.T.S. Tulsi, senior Supreme Court lawyer and a member of the Gurdwara Trust who was witness to the spat between Phoolka and Sarna during a meeting on Saturday, said, “There were some unpleasant exchanges. I will only like to say that instead of washing the muck in the public, they should sit together and settle issues in the interest of the riot victims.”