’84 riots: Woman who lost kin identifies Sajjan

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New Delhi, November 17: Cham Kaur, 70, didn’t lose her composure even once as she stood before a local court on Friday and identified Congress leader Sajjan Kumar as “chief instigator” of one of the largest anti-Sikh riots that hit Delhi after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

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But moments after she had deposed in Patiala House Court in the Sultanpuri case that saw the killing of 344 Sikhs, including her father and son, Kaur was hospitalised for “acute anxiety”.

“My mother has been a fighter all her life. But the trauma of facing accused Sajjan Kumar and recalling his role in the tragedy was too much for her to handle,” said Swaran Singh, Kaur’s youngest son.

He spoke from his mother’s bedside in Guru Gobind Charity Hospital in Raghubir Nagar, where the family has settled

after shuttling around rehabilitation zones for 34 years. Earlier in the day, Kaur told district judge Poonam Bamba that on the morning of November 1, 1984, when she went out of her Sultanpuri home to look for her goat, she heard Congress leader and then MP Sajjan Kumar instigating the crowd in the local park “to kill Sikhs”.

“I saw Sajjan Kumar addressing the crowd. He was saying ‘hamari maa maar di, sardaron ko maar do’. I returned home and alerted the neighbourhood. We hid on the second floor of the house through the night. On November 2, 1984, subah subah hamlaa aa gaya… bahut aadmi the (several attackers descended at dawn). My son Kapur Singh and father Sardarji Singh were pulled out of hiding, beaten up mercilessly and thrown off the second floor,” Kaur told the court.

She also identified her signatures on a September 7, 1985, affidavit filed before the Ranganathan Commission in which she had named Sajjan Kumar as the accused. Nothing came out of that complaint.

In 2005, the Nanavati Commission ordered reopening of some cases and the CBI registered two fresh FIRs in anti-Sikh riots — one in Sultanpuri killings and the other in Delhi Cantonment killings.

“The Delhi Cantt case trial began in 2010 and concluded in 2013 with the conviction of five persons, but acquittal of Sajjan Kumar. We challenged his acquittal in the Delhi High Court and the order is awaited any day after November 20, the last day for sumbission of written arguments in the case. Cham Kaur’s identification of Sajjan Kumar is critical to the case as she is only the second witness to name him in the Sultanpuri killings,” said CBI counsel Tarannum Cheema.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, which has been helping Cham Kaur and other witnesses testify in riot cases, termed today’s developments a “milestone in the journey to justice for Sikhs”.

Source Tribune India