The guilty behind the worst riots since Partition are yet to be identified, much less punished.
The story of the investigation has been a glaring example of how the political establishment used the administrative machinery to obfuscate the truth, protect the guilty and obstruct the course of justice, say lawyers and civil rights activists who have been following the investigation trail.
"Everyone has played along, even as the riot victims look on hopelessly," exclaims lawyer H.S. Phoolka, who has spearheaded one of the longest and most tortuous legal battles to gain justice for riot victims.
Except for a few inconsequential convictions, some who have subsequently been acquitted, not one politician or senior police official has been punished for the pogrom that took place in full public view in the days following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. A majority of cases have led to acquittal.
"There have been just 20 convictions for murder. Most cases are already over where the accused have been acquitted.
Only four to five cases are left now," adds Phoolka. In November 1984, civil rights groups -- including People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) -released their explosive report "Who are the guilty". Among other things, the report carried an annexure listing the names of people against whom the victims had levelled allegations.
They included 198 local Congress activists and others, 15 Congress leaders and 143 police officials. The main findings were substantiated by the report of the Citizens For Democracy and by a citizens' commission headed by former chief justice of India S.M. Sikri.
But their petition for a judicial inquiry was dismissed.
"In the tortuous course of administering justice, at every single step a technical flaw or a knot was created, which doomed the next step. And every committee gave birth to another," the report then damningly noted.
The government, on its part, has only doled out compensation to relatives of those killed in the sectarian violence after a commission headed by retired judge G.T. Nanavati submitted its report in August 2005.
Nanavati claimed that there was evidence against Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and H.K.L. Bhagat for instigating the mobs to attack and kill Sikhs. But the commission failed to pinpoint the role of Congress functionaries.
"Cases are still pending against Sajjan Kumar and despite the Central Bureau of Investigation wanting to drop charges against Tytler, we are pursuing the case against him," says senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, who has chronicled the various committees and commissions set up since 1984.
"It is a pity that justice has eluded victims in a situation where the killings were in full public view. Clearly the present criminal justice system has failed to deliver on mass crime," she adds.
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