The manner in which the cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi have been dealt with and people’s reaction to that has, yet again, shown that justice delayed is justice denied. The killings were a blot on the nation. A minority community was singled out and attacked in a series of planned attacks. A large number of innocent citizens were murdered in the Capital and in other cities, lawlessness prevailed in the days that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Even as people tried to rebuild their shattered lives, they had to contend with the fact that various attempts to bring the perpetrators of violence to book were thwarted by powerful vested interests and only a few cases were registered against those who had inflicted the violence and murdered people. Only recently, three persons have been convicted for their role in the killing of five members of a family -Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh -in the Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment 29 years ago.
They have been awarded a life sentence by a Delhi court. The main accused, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, was acquitted by the same court which gave him the benefit of the doubt. The verdict had sparked off protests in various parts of Delhi, as has the sentencing. A sense of hurt still evidently persists in the people who had to suffer the violence, especially those who lost their family members. The country pays a terrible price every time there is a riot.
Lack of swift judicial recourse leads to festering resentment among the victims and prevents wounds from healing. It is simply unacceptable that mass violence should be allowed to happen in the largest democracy in the world, one that has a record of people of diverse backgrounds living together. The feeling of impunity that people who commit such ghastly crimes can often be traced to political machinations. Only if the police and the judiciary act to deliver justice can such blots on the nation be prevented in the future.