Nanavati pins Tytler for ’84 riots Points finger at Sajjan Kumar, H.K.L. Bhagat, D.D. Shastri R. Suryamurthy Tribune News Service New Delhi, August 8 The Nanavati Commission of Inquiry into the 1984 riots, terming it as an organised attack on the Sikhs, has indicted Union Minister Jagdish Tytler saying there was “credible evidence” against him, that he had “very probably” had a hand in the organising attacks and demanded that the government should take “further action as may be necessary”. The 339-page report said the riots were organised involving Congress leaders and could not have taken place “but for the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons, killing of Sikhs so swiftly and in large number could not have happened.” It came down heavily on police officials too and the failure of the authorities to call the Army immediately to control the situation. “The commission considers it safe to record a finding that there is credible evidence against Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs. “The commission, therefore, recommends to the government to look into this aspect and take further action as may be necessary,” said the report of the commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Mr Justice G.T. Navavati, set up by the NDA government. The report of the commission, which points fingers at several “local” Congress leaders, including Sajjan Kumar, MP, late Dharam Dass Shastri and H.K.L. Bhagat, however, absolved the party saying there was no evidence to suggest that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi or any other high-ranking leader had “suggested or organised” the attacks in which nearly 3,000 persons were killed. However, the action taken report of the government on the commission’s findings, rejected the recommendation against Mr Tytler saying: “It is clear from the remarks ‘very probably’ that the Commission itself was not absolutely sure about his involvement in such attacks.” In criminal cases a person cannot be prosecuted simply on the basis of probability, said the ATR tabled by Home Minster Shivraj V Patil. Both the commission’s report and the ATR were tabled in Parliament today on the last day of the six-month period by when the documents should have been submitted. Mr Tytler was not named as an accused in cases registered in connection with the riots. “In view of the fact that the commission itself is not certain that Mr Tytler had a role in organising the attacks on Sikhs and in the context of the judicial verdicts on the incidents mentioned in the commission’s report, any further action will not be justified,” the ATR said. On the role of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the riots that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the commission recommended examination of only those cases where the witnesses had made accusations against him specifically. “There is credible material” against Mr Kumar and another Congress leader Balwan Khokar that they were “probably involved as alleged by witnesses”. However, the ATR said Mr Kumar’s name did not figure in the list of accused in several of the cases, including an FIR in the Sultanpuri police station nor was his name mentioned by any of the 118 witnesses whose statements were recorded during investigation of the case. Mr Kumar was acquitted by an Additional Sessions Judge in 2002, the ATR noted saying: “No fresh material or evidence has been produced before Justice Nanavati Commission against Sajjan Kumar in connection with incidents of riots covered under an FIR in Sultanpuri police station. Therefore, it will not be just to reopen this case.” The commission was of the view that there was “credible evidence” against Congress leader Dharam Dass Shastri and recommended that the government examine the relevant material and direct investigation or further investigation as may be found necessary. Pointing out that Shastri was not named as an accused in this case, the ATR said the government would examine the factual position for appropriate action. The commission came down heavily on the failure of the Delhi police and also criticised the role of the then Police Commissioner S.C. Tandon and the then Lt Governor of Delhi P.G. Gavai. The ATR said the government noted with concern the conduct of police officials mentioned by the commission. “However, since these officials have retired from service there are legal difficulties in initiating any departmental proceedings at this point of time.” “Further, action under the pension rules is possible only in respect of an event which took place within four years before institution of the proceedings,” the ATR said. On Mr Gavai, the commission described the explanation given by him as “not satisfactory” and observed that Gavai “was the person responsible for the maintenance of law and order in Delhi and, therefore, he cannot escape the responsibility for its failure”. The ATR said the government had taken immediate administrative action. Mr Gavai was replaced by M M.K. Wali as LG of Delhi on November 4, 1984.” Regarding Mr Tandon, the commission observed that “it is no explanation to say that he was not properly informed by his subordinates.....He should have known that the policemen on the spot were ineffective and in spite of the curfew, mobs indulging in violence were moving freely and were committing acts of looting and killing freely.” The action taken report said the government had taken serious note of the Commission’s observations and would taken necessary action to ensure better leadership qualities among senior officers. On the commission’s views regarding “delay in calling the Army” to quell the riots, the ATR said, “the government accepts these views of the commission. Accordingly, state governments, union territory administrations and the Delhi Police will be advised to take necessary action.” Accusing Delhi Police personnel of remaining passive and not providing protection to the people during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the commission said if “timely action” had been taken by the police against rioters, probably many lives could have been saved. It said police personnel had “remained passive and did not provide protection to the people”. The government, the ATR said, had noted all such general observations for taking appropriate remedial action and to advise the Delhi Police and state governments to ensure that police personnel performed their duties properly in such situations in future. The ATR said the government had accepted the panel’s recommendation on providing uniform compensation/assistance to the widows/families of the riot victims, including allotment of slum flats, kiosks/shops and house sites besides monetary compensation and monthly pension.