Six days before Delhi goes to the polls, the Modi government Sunday indicated that the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases may be reopened for investigation.
The Centre would announce the probe by a special investigation team (SIT) — recommended by a home ministry-appointed panel — after February 7, the polling day, sources said.
The model code of conduct, which is in place in Delhi, prohibits the government from announcing decisions that can influence voters.
The Aam Aadmi Party dismissed the move as a poll gimmick, while the Congress hinted that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP, may have had a hand in the violence.
The riots continue to be a poll issue even after 30 years, with the AAP and the BJP calling for a fresh probe into the communal frenzy that swept the city in the aftermath of the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. As many as 2,733 people, most of them Sikhs, were killed in the Capital.
It is not clear if justice GP Mathur panel has suggested fresh probe in all 241 cases closed by the police.
The panel, appointed by the home ministry in January to look into the possibility of a SIT reinvestigating the riot cases, submitted an interim report to home minister Rajnath Singh last week, sources said.
Sikhs are 5% of the city’s population and are largely concentrated in west Delhi. They have a sizable presence in Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Moti Nagar, Janakpuri and Vikaspuri constituencies and can influence the poll outcome.
There are also pockets of Sikh population in east Delhi such as Trilokpuri and Shahadara and Govindpuri and Kalkaji in the south.
AAP, which has promised a fresh probe in its manifesto, said the move was a poll gimmick. Party leader and senior advocate HS Phoolka, who has been fighting for justice for the riot victims, wondered why the BJP government had not let the SIT announced by the Kejriwal government to probe the matter.
In January, the Modi government had also approved an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each to the kin of the riot victims.
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Committee chief Manjit Singh GK welcomed the move and said the special investigation team should be set up at the earliest. Singh, who meet the home minister, said Rajnath Singh had assured them that justice would be done.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh questioned the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the riots.
“One aspect of the anti-Sikh riots on which the media and others have been very silent is the role of the RSS activists in the Sikh riots,” the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said.