1984 Sikh riots case: Complainant calls court verdict victory for humanity
Santokh Singh, who lost three members of his family in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, triumphed after fighting a protracted legal battle for the past 25 years.
“We wanted both of them to be hanged. It has been 34 years and my son who was then 2-year-old still has scars on his body which he suffered during the riots violence. But we are satisfied with the court’s verdict. It’s not only our victory but a big victory for humanity,” said Santokh, 71, hours after a Delhi court awarded the first death sentence to a man and life term to another for killing two men and injuring three others during the riots in Mahipalpur.
Santokh is the elder brother of three of the five victims in the Mahipalpur case, including Hardev Singh who died in the attack. He has been fighting the legal battle along with his two surviving brothers – Sangat Singh and Kuldeep Singh – and a neighbour Surjeet Singh since the case was registered in 1993, on his affidavit filed before Justice Ranganath Misra Commission.
Recalling what he witnessed on November 1, 1984, Santokh said, “My son, who was just 2-year-old then, suffered burns. A doctor in the camp saved his life. My son, who is currently living in Germany, still has those scars on his body. Out of my injured brothers, we didn’t find Hardev’s body then. Police found it later.”
Santokh reached Delhi with his two brothers from their native village in Punjab’s Jalandhar on Monday to be present for the court’s verdict. “I wanted to inform my family members about this victory. But by the time I called them, they had already watched the news about the judgment on television,” he said.
According to Santokh, he is lucky to have survived the violence because he had left his Mahipalpur home a day before his brothers and friends were attacked by a violent mob of around 1000 people on November 1, 1984.
“I was at a gurudwara at Delhi Cantonment where I was working as a ‘Granthi’. I rushed back home soon after I learnt about the attack on my family members. The scene that I witnessed there is still fresh in my mind,” he added.
Santokh said that though a case was registered in 1993 on his affidavit, they could not pursue the case because of the lack of financial support. “No politician came forward to help us get justice. We want to thank the SIT members for reopening our case and investigating it,” he said.
One of the riots survivors, who was present in the court during the verdict, called the judgment “a start”, saying the fight will continue till they get “complete justice” and bring all perpetrators to justice.