Friday, April 19, 2024

I will fight for justice till my last breath: Jagdish Kaur who lost 5 family members in ’84 riots

This is a big victory for Jagdish Kaur, an anti-Sikh riot victim, as the Delhi HC set aside previous acquittal of Sajjan Kumar and awarded him life imprisonment.

Soon after the verdict, she said: “I will fight for justice with the last drop of blood.”, reported tribune India Jagdish Kaur, 77, who can barely walk, was in the Delhi High Court to see the judges convict Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 34-year-old case of murder of five members of her family during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Kaur, now based in Amritsar, lost her husband, elder son and three cousins in the carnage that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

Mohali-based Nirpreet Kaur, another witness against Sajjan Kumar, said that she was allegedly threatened with slapping of TADA cases against her. Nirpreet Kaur was only 16 when she saw her father being burnt alive by a frenzied mob near a gurdwara in Delhi’s Raj Nagar on the morning of November 1, 1984. Her father was the head priest at the gurdwara.

Today, she wept as she spoke to reporters outside the Delhi High Court which sentenced Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life in jail for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The 73-year-old politician was convicted in the killing of five members of a family in Raj Nagar and the torching of a gurdwara.

At least 3,000 people were killed when mobs led by Congress leaders targeted Sikhs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

“I have got justice after 34 years… He (Sajjan Kumar) will go to jail,” she said, her voice choking.

The 207-page judgment describes the chilling witness accounts of what happened on that autumn morning. Nirpreet Kaur’s father, Nirmal Singh, was doused in kerosene. When the mob was unable to find any matchsticks, a policeman shouted and gave a matchbox to one of the men who set the Sikh man on fire. Nirmal Singh jumped into a drain. The mob then tied him to a pole and set him on fire for the second time when they noticed that he was still alive. Nirmal Singh fought back and jumped into the drain again. His daughter saw the mob return and hit him with a rod. One of the men then “sprinkled some white powder (phosphorus) on him, causing burns,” the order read.

A day after her father’s killing, Nirpreet Kaur reported Sajjan Kumar, the area’s lawmaker then, making a speech in which he said even those Hindus who were protecting Sikhs should be killed. “I saw Sajjan Kumar giving a speech saying that not a single Sardar who killed Indira Gandhi should be saved. My life became hell since then,” Ms Kaur said.

Then Congress MP Sajjan Kumar, who allegedly led the murderous mobs, was let off, prompting Jagdish Kaur and a second survivor, Jagsher Singh, along with the CBI to appeal the acquittal in the Delhi High court “It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail. The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt,” the High Court said in its verdict.


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