Nov 1, 1984: The present case is about the killing of three Sikhs -- Badal Singh, Gurucharan Singh and Thakur Singh -- near Gurudwara Pulbangash in north Delhi in the riots that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi a day before.
Feb 8, 2005: Justice G T Nanavati Commission, appointed to look into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots by the NDA government, submits its report which states, among other things:
"there is credible evidence against Shri Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organizing attacks on Sikhs."
This was the 10th such government appointed committee/commission, and it finally took a commission appointed by a non-Congress government to name prominent Congress leaders. But of course Jagdish Tytler remains a minister in the Congress-led UPA government.
Aug 8, 2005: Nanavati Commission report is tabled in Parliament. Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao get a clean chit, but the report clearly points a finger at Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and HKL Bhagat. The Congress-led UPA brazens it out in its Action Taken Report, saying there isn't enough evidence to prosecute. Jagdish Tytler remains a minister in the Congress-led UPA government.
Aug 11, 2005: Finally, after even the allies of the UPA government vehemently protest, the Prime Minister at last makes a statement in the Rajya Sabha:
One of my colleagues, a valued colleague, has tendered his resignation. That resignation has been accepted.
Manoj Mitta and HS Phoolka record in When a Tree Shook Delhi:
...the political career of ... Tytler, far from suffering on account of 'the taint of 1984' blossomed as if [he] had been rewarded for engineering the violence. Having won the 1984 election under the shadow of the carnage, Rajiv Gandhi immediately...inducted Tytler into the government for the first time as minister of state...[He] remained in the Rajiv Gandhi government till the end of its tenure in 1989...
He remained a minister whenever Congress returned to power: He was back under P.V. Narasimha Rao, and then again under Manmohan Singh in 2004, till he was forced to resign under duress, following his indictment by Nanawati Commission report on 1984 anti-Sikh violence. Which of course was claimed by the worthies of the Congress to be "in keeping with the high traditions of sacrifice exemplified by the party"
Nov, 2005: CBI registers case against Tytler.
Oct 28, 2007: CBI files closure report in a Delhi court giving clean chit to Tytler.
Dec 18, 2007: Court rejects CBI's probe report, directs further investigation.
Dec, 2008: CBI goes to the United States to record statement of witness Jasbir Singh who was earlier declared as not traceable by it.
Apr 2, 2009: CBI again files a closure report against Tytler
The "high tradition" was of course followed with a usual ticket for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
It took a shoe thrown at P. Chidambaram that eventually resulted in his not contesting the Lok Sabha elections, something the party had cheerfully allowed him all through these decades.
The CBI clean chit was given under the directorship of the same gentleman under whose watch the agency had dropped all charges against Quattrocchi.
March 9, 2013: The gentleman, one Mr Ashwani Kumar, who was the Director of the CBI from August 2008 to November 2010, recently became the first head of the agency to be appointed as a Governor, when he was sworn in as the governor of Nagaland in March this year.
In 2009, as Ritu Sarin reported in the Indian Express, he had over-ruled the Joint Director (JD) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and its Deputy Inspector General (DIG) who
clearly recommended, in writing, that there was a strong case against Jagdish Tytler in the Bara Hindu Rao anti-Sikh riots case under a string of charges including murder, rioting and damage to property. Despite this, the agency's director Ashwani Kumar signed on the clean chit to Tytler.
Sarin also quoted Joint Director (JD) Arun Kumar of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as stateing in his three-page opinion, inter alia:
"The cases have been politically used and misused time and again. If one relies upon the statements of witnesses, their changing statements will be quoted to prove them unreliable. On the other hand, the other side will argue that accused persons are so influential that nobody can depose truthfully in India. Both important witnesses are presently in USA. If they are insisting on certain narration of facts, it will be difficult to ignore only by citing contradictions...Given the circumstances of these cases, it will not be appropriate to totally deny the present statements of Jasbir Singh and Surender Singh regarding the incident. It will be appropriate to finally leave the decision in the hands of trial court. Hence, I tend to go with the opinion of the DIG and recommend prosecution of Jagdish Tytler under Sections 147, 149 and 109 IPC read with 302, 295, 427 and 436 IPC."
Significantly, this is the period in which the ruling UPA steadfastly fought off all demands for granting autonomy to the CBI, one of the sticking points during its negotiations with what was then Team Anna during the Lok Pal agitation.
[All of this is of course par for the course. The first investigation in the 1984 riots was handed over to a "sitting judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Ranganath Misra, in May 1985. He submitted his report in August 1986. It created no waves—nor was it expected to. The grateful government later appointed him India's chief justice, and after retirement, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. He also got a six-year term in the Rajya Sabha"]
September, 2012: Meanwhile, Mr Tytler, as the Congress general secretary in charge of Orissa, was busy exhorting mobs once again: Jagdhish Tytler: A Reminder
As D.K. Singh pointed out in the Indian Express then, "Tytler who himself is under CBI scanner for his alleged links with arms dealer Abhishek Verma...With the Orissa Police registering FIRs against him, Tytler may have further consolidated his position in the party because every controversy, every allegation against him has only brought rewards for him."
It is in this context that we should read today's news: 1984 Riots: Court Orders Reopening of Case Against Tytler:
"The order of trial court accepting the closure report dated April 27, 2010 is set aside.
"CBI is directed to conduct further investigation in the light of aforesaid facts and to record the statements of witnesses, who it had come to know during the investigation itself, are claiming/shown/named to be the eye witnesses of the incident," Additional Sessions Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj said.
Today's order came as a big jolt to Tytler, who had got a clean chit twice from the CBI which had closed the case.
The court said that CBI had an "obligation" to record the statement of US-based three persons, whose names were taken by an eye witness that they were also present with at the spot.
"The moment this statement of the witness was recorded irrespective of whether he was telling truth or lie, the investigating agency had an obligation to have recorded the statements of these persons or atleast to have made enquiry from them.
"We understand that the CBI reserves its right to conclude that these witnesses were planted and not truthworthy and thus to file a closure report giving its opinion on the issue, however, it did not have any right to have not recorded the statements of these witnesses and thus to have prevented the court from forming its own opinion regarding reliability of these witnesses," it said.
Also See: From the archives:
The Credible Evidence
The full texts of the two affidavits referred to by the Nanavati Commission while recordings its finding "that there is credible evidence against Shri Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organizing attacks on Sikhs".
Jasbir Singh, Surinder Singh
'Ever Since I Deposed Against Tytler...'
'...I have not had a moment's peace,' says Surinder Singh, who was a granthi at Gurudwara Pulbangash in Delhi during the 1984 riots and adds that he vividly remembers 'seeing Tytler urging rioters not to waste time on looting but to get down to killing people'
Chander Suta Dogra
Standing Up To Be Counted
A few damaging witnesses, who the CBI claimed could not be traced, have surfaced in the last few days to say, that they are ready to depose against the high profile accused Congressmen if they are assured of rehabilitation and some protection.
Chander Suta Dogra
'I Did Not Dare Say Or Do Anything...'
'...for fear of being harassed by Tytler whose men always kept a watch on me and threatened to liquidate my family,' says one of the witnesses who had earlier resiled from his testimony against the accused Congress leader.
Khushwant Singh: When Jagdish Tytler claimed that none of the commissions of inquiry implicated him in the anti-Sikh violence, he was lying. You can see it in the smirk on his satanic face. Only sarkari commissions let him off the hook.
It also appeared to the Commission that S/Shri Jagdish Tytler, Ram Lal, Kaka Bali, Ram Chander Nagoria and Tarvinder Singh Bedi, who were all Congress (I) Leaders or workers, were in some way involved in the attacks on Sikhs or their properties in this area. Notice issued to Shri Tarvinder Singh could not be served as it was reported that he has died. Notice was not issued to Kaka Bali also as he had expired earlier. S/Shri Jagdish Tytler, Ram Chander Nagoria and Ram Lal have sent their replies.
Shri Surinder Sigh (Witness No.147), who was the Head Granthy of Gurudwara Pulbangash, situated near Azad Market while describing the attack on the Gurudwara on 1-11-84 at about 9 a.m., has stated that the mob which attacked the Gurudwara was led by Shri Jagdish Tytler who was then Congress (I) MP of the area. He has stated that Shri Jagdish Tytler had incited the mob to burn the Gurudwara and kill the Sikhs. According to his evidence the mob had thereafter attacked the Gurudwara and burnt it. One Badal Singh was also burnt alive. He has also stated that he was contacted by Shri Jagdish Tytler on 10-11-84 and asked to sign on two sheets of paper. In reply to this allegation Shri Jagdish Tytler has referred to the subsequent affidavit dated 5-8-2002 filed by this witness, wherein he has stated that he does not know what was written in his earlier statement as he cannot read or write English. He has further stated therein that he had not seen Shri Jagdish Tytler in the mob that had attacked the Gurudwara. Shri Jagdish Tytler has also stated that at the relevant time on 1.11.84 he was present at 1 Safdarjang Road where the body of Late Smt. Indira Gandhi was lying in state and that at no point of time on that day he had gone near that Gurudwara. Witness Shri Surinder Singh, during his cross examination, admitted that he had not filed any affidavit earlier either before Justice Mishra Commission or any other authority regarding what he had stated now. It would appear that by itself cannot be a good ground for not beliving him. He has given evidence before this Commission and therefore what he has stated in his subsequent affidavit referred to by Shri Jagdish Tytler is not of much value. What appears from all this is that the subsequent affidavit was probably obtained by persuasion or under pressure. If this witness had really not seen Shri Jagdish Tytler in the mob or if he was not approached by Shri Tytler then he would not have come before the Commission to give evidence or would have told the Commission that the attack did not take place in that manner. For speaking the truth it was not necessary for him to wait till 5-2-2002 and file an additional affidavit. He was not called for cross examination by Shri Tytler.
As stated by Shri Gurbachan Singh (Witness-137) involvement of Shri Jagdish Tytler was also disclosed by the affected persons to the ‘Citizen Commission’ during the inquiry, which it had made within a short time after the riots. That inquiry was made by eminent persons of unquestionable integrity. Shri Govind Narain (Witness – 150) who had assisted the Citizens Committee, whose Chairman was Mr. Justice Sikri, has also stated that witnesses had told the Committee about participation by S/Shri H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler in the anti-Sikh riots. Relying upon all this material, the Commission considers it safe to record a finding that there is credible evidence against Shri Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organizing attacks on Sikhs. The Commission, therefore, recommends to the Government to look into this aspect and take further action as may be found necessary.
Rahul Gandhi was merely 14 years old in 1984, but we have heard him allude to the events of that cataclysmic year as recently as January 20 this year when he addressed the AICC at Jaipur on his appointment as the Congress Vice President:
When I was a little boy I loved to play badminton. I loved it because it gave me balance in a complicated world. I was taught how to play, in my grandmother’shouse, by two of the policemen who protected my grandmother. They were my friends. Then one day they killed my grandmother and took away the balance in my life. I felt pain like I had never felt before. My father was in Bengal and he came back. The hospital was dark, green and dirty. There was a huge screaming crowd outside as I entered. It was the first time in my life that I saw my father crying. He was thebravest person I knew and yet I saw him cry. I could see that he too was broken.
Perhaps it is time to hear his thoughts on the charges against the accused Congressmen who continue to hold important positions in party and government.