Wednesday, May 8, 2013

1984 Anti-Sikh riots verdict: The pen was mighty but the hands were trembling

It was nothing like anything. The scenes that unfolded at the Karkardooma Court post 2:40 pm on 30th April 2013 were a bewildering reminder of how the unpredictable can surface when you least expect it.
The verdict in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case where five people were killed near Delhi Cantt on the 1st and 2nd of November 1984 was to be pronounced at Court no. 2 of the trial court at 2 pm.
The verdict was postponed by an hour. The media had already reached; 3-4 correspondents per channel. Two reporters outside the court premises providing constant (live) information about the history of the case and what could be the course of future for Sajjan Kumar, if he would be convicted. And two other outside the court room, waiting, expecting the verdict. Every channel had their plans - grand plans - ready. A quick reaction by Sajjan Kumar, the perspective of lawyers from both sides and of course the victims who had been fighting for 29 long years now. Prime time shows had decided their focus. This undoubtedly was a big story. After all, there was a chance of it being the first time ever when a high-profile political leader would have been convicted in the 1984 riots case that left almost 3000 Sikhs dead.
At 2 pm the Delhi police cordoned off the court room holding thick ropes and barricading the entry. We were told this is for security reasons, the media will be allowed at 2:40 pm. We waited - anxiously discussing the probabilities and the impact the verdict may have on obvious individuals. At 2:40 pm we were stopped again - this time the ACP came and bartered for 5 more minutes before he would let us in, clearly this was not just a security requirement. After 5 minutes we lost our patience (our tribe has often been ridiculed for the same but this time I like to believe they asked for it) and moved towards the entry gate of court no. 2 - we were once again stopped for 'proper frisk checking'.
Then a senior police official whisked us aside barking out orders to 'give side' approached. Behind him was Sajjan Kumar, the prime accused. As soon as the man entered the doors of the court were shut on media. We yelled for our right to enter - slammed on the door that didn't open. Within a few minutes we heard loud noises from inside. Curiosity and the need to flash the big news first was killing us. The door swung open and a dazed Karnail Singh rushed out with one slipper on his feet - later we would find out that Karnail Singh had hurled a show towards the judge after he had pronounced what Singh thought was a biased judgement.
The police would detain and later arrest him.
The victim's lawyer HS Phoolka was next to come out but he didn't answer any questions He only stared at us blankly and pushed off. As we entered I saw Sajjan Kumar standing in one corner with tears in his eyes. He was quickly whisked away. The judge was nowhere to be seen. Only a completely shaken and almost shattered Jagdish Kaur and her son screaming and thumping the table. And then as I could gather my wits I found that the absolute unexpected had happened. Sajjan Kumar had been acquitted of all charges. He was from that moment a free man.

with thanks : IBN LIVE : LINK

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