The Kejriwal government on Wednesday announced that a special investigation team would probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, two days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said some partymen might have been involved in the violence but had been punished.
The decision to probe the riots that followed the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi and left more than 3,000 Sikhs dead in the Capital is likely to further strain the ties between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress, which is giving outside support to the month-old Arvind Kejriwal government.
Two senior Congress leaders, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, have court cases pending against them for allegedly inciting violence and leading mobs of rioters.
Criticising the decision, Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh said the government was playing with the sentiments of Sikhs for political gains. “The Congress does not mind any probe but the intention is to play with the sentiments of the Sikh. They never mentioned about riots unless Rahul Gandhi talked about it in the interview,” Singh said.
Talking to Times Now, Gandhi had admitted that some of his partymen were “probably involved in the violence” but were punished.
The BJP and alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal hit back, saying even after 30 years, no action had been taken against Congress leaders. AAP, however, denied that the controversy had influenced the probe move.
Chief minister Kejriwal met the lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung earlier in the day to demand a SIT probe.
“I have asked the L-G to set up SIT for 1984 riots. It was part of our manifesto too,” Kejriwal said. The terms for SIT would be decided later by the cabinet, he said.
Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia later told reporters that Jung had given in-principle approval to SIT. To a question on how effective the probe would be after 30 years, Sisodia said honest efforts would definitely yield results.
Senior lawyer HS Phoolka, who has been fighting for the riots victims and recently joined AAP, said the decision had given a “ray of hope” to the victims. “Police officers from other states should head the SIT while the Delhi Police should only assist them,” he said.