1984 riots: One sentenced to death

New Delhi, Nov 20 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/20/2018 12:00:17 PM IST

A Delhi court today sentenced a man to death for killing two persons in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and injuring three others.

Additional sessions judge, Ajay Pandey sentenced transporter Yashpal Singh to death for murdering Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh by setting them on fire in the riots that followed the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. Retired postmaster Naresh Sehrawat, who was also convicted in the case last week, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Both the convicts are in their 50s.
The two were also convicted for injuring Surjeet Singh, Sangat Singh and Kuldeep Singh. Soon after the verdict, the two were arrested and sent to jail.
The sentencing was held in the Tihar Jail due to security concerns, reported PTI. This came after Yashpal was assaulted on Thursday allegedly by Delhi’s Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislator Manjinder Singh Sirsa, in Patiala House Courts, after the court reserved its order on the quantum of punishment.
This was the first conviction in five of the eight cases — reopened and investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted in 2015 — in which charge sheets were filed. Investigation into the other three cases, which, SIT members said involved Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, are still pending.
After last week’s verdict, Kumar Gyanesh, additional deputy commissioner of Delhi Police and a member of the SIT, said the conviction came on the basis of the statement of 18 witnesses, who were re-examined by the SIT besides other evidences such as medical examination reports of the victims and photographs pertaining to the crime.
The case was registered in 1993 at Vasant Kunj police station after Hardev’s brother Santok Singh filed an affidavit before the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission — formed to probe the killings.
The city police had closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence. However, the SIT reopened the case in 2016, after investigators, scrutinising 293 cases that were earlier declared ‘untraced’ or ‘cancelled’, found clues pertaining to the case. The SIT finally decided to probe 60 cases, of which 52 were closed for want of evidence while eight were reopened.
The SIT members told the court that statements of Kuldeep, Sangat and Surjeet, who had survived the attack, were recorded after their whereabouts were traced. 
The three identified their neighbours Sehrawat and Yashpal Singh as the accused. They alleged that the two were part of the mob, which had set three grocery shops in Mahipalpur on fire on November 1, 1984.
“The three hid themselves in a first floor room along with Hardev and Avtar. The mob forcibly entered the room, assaulted the five men and threw them down from the first floor. They set the room on fire. Hardev and Avtar succumbed to their injuries, while the other three survived. The survived victims identified Naresh as the one who was carrying a can of kerosene and Yashpal as the one who lit the fire,” the SIT had said in the charge sheet.

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