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Letter to the Union Home Minister, dated 20 December 1984 together with an enclosure

Vishwa Yuvak Kendra,
Circular Road,
New Delhi-110021.

December 20.1984.

My dear Home Minister,

On behalf of the Citizens' Commission consisting of myself and the following:

SHRI GOVIND NARAIN former Governor, Karnataka and former H.ome Secretary
SHRI RAJESHWAR DAYAL former Foreign Secretary
SHRI B.F.H.B. TYABJI former Commonwealth Secretary and former Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University
SHRI T.C.A. SRINIVASVARADAN former Home Secretary

I enclose a Note prepared by us containing some specific aspects on which we would be very grateful to have your observations and advice. We would be further grateful if you would kindly appoint a time for us to meet you at a very early date about this urgent public matter.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

former Chief Justice of India

Minister of Home Affairs,
Government of India,
New Delhi.

End: As above.

We have during the last four weeks visited several widely scattered refugee camps and gurdwaras in different parts of the city and examined a large number of victims as well as eye-witnesses of the outrages in which many innocent persons have been butchered and burnt in unmentionable savagery, women raped and shops and houses looted and destroyed. They have all testified before us that policemen when they were present not only did not lift a finger to save them and to curb the riotous mobs but actively abetted the rioters by

1.                   tricking the victims that they would be safe if they went into their houses, and then

2.                   telling the rioters that they could now attack the victims, which they did.

The police stations were totally unhelpful if any police officer was present. Most of the police officers were unaccountably found to be unavailable or absent from the station. It was generally alleged that the refusal of the police or its significant absence from the scenes of carnage, often located within a stone's throw from well-manned police stations, was in response to some directive. We have not heard the version of the police or of the persons with political connections frequently named, as we have no means available of hearing their version.

The names of the mob leaders, murderers, arsonists and rapists have come up repeatedly, but they still appear to be at large terrorising their localities. We have not heard of cases being tried or any convictions or even of investigations being conducted in the striken areas.

That such savagery should have taken place in the capital city of India, and raged unhindered for three or four days, of which the Sikh community were the direct victims, but all law-abiding citizens felt threatened and their faith gravely shaken in the state's organ of security, is a matter of grave concern. It is of fundamental importance to take immediate action, even so long after the grievous outrages, to restore a sense of reassurance to the Sikh community in particular and to the public at large. The danger which the country faces is that, if such merciless bestiality can be allowed to take place unchecked, the very fabric of the mosaic of India's unity in diversity, secularism and security will be gravely imperilled.

We would therefore place before the authorities under whose charge the city of Delhi lies, the questions that arise from our extensive enquiries and which are being widely asked by the concerned public:

1.                   We gather that the news about grievous bullet injuries to the late Prime Minister by her own security guards was fairly widespread in Delhi by 9.30 am on 31 October. What preventive measures were taken by the administration and the police to safeguard law and order and prevent harm to life and property?

2.                   The local papers had brought out supplements by about 2 pm on 31 October announcing the late Prime Minister's death. Following this some disturbances including burning of vehicles had started in the area around AIIMS and Laxmibai Nagar on the same day by 5 pm or so. Did the administration and the police enforce intensive precautionary and preventive measures in all the areas with Sikh population?

3.                   Did the administration have an updated Internal Security Scheme and were copies supplied to all concerned including all the police stations? Was the Internal Security Scheme enforced? If so, when?

4.                   Did the administration have adequate police force at its command — the civil and the armed police? If yes, were they deployed in sufficient strength according to standing plans for law and order duties besides catering to the requirements of the funeral?

5.                   If the police force was inadequate for both these big essential requirements, was help sought from the CRP, the BSF or the Army? If so, when?

6.                   Most of the victims we have met have complained that they sought the assistance of the local police, then of the police control but did not get any help. Were there any particular constraints or limitations?

7.                   Numerous complaints have been made to us that while heinous crimes of looting, arson, rape and murder by burning humans alive, were being committed in various areas on I to 3 November, no effective measures were taken against the criminal mobs. It has been suggested that the trouble could have been contained if curfew had been imposed on 31 October and if the army had been called out on the I November morning with full instructions to put an end to these crimes. We would like to know what was the thinking and assessment of the administration.

8.                   Complaints have been made to us that the Army was called very late and even when it came, the officers and men had no clear-cut instructions and they were not provided with guides to direct them to the affected areas. We would like to have the official comments.

9.                   What system was adopted to ensure effective liaison, coordination and communication among the administration, Delhi Police BSF, CRP and the army, and when did this start operating?

10.              We have received many complaints that persons whom the victims had seen, recognised and named as the criminals involved in these various heinous crimes, are still at large and they are still intimidating and terrorising the refugees wanting to return to their homes. Are there any reasons why the normal law is not being enforced? Couldn't these culprits be detained till they are tried by Special Courts?.

11.              People would like to how many persons were arrested or tried for violation of 144 Cr PC orders or for the breach of curfew.

12.              People would like to know on how many occasions the Police or the Army resorted to firing to prevent rioting, arson, loot or murder and with what result.

13.              People will also like to know how many culprits have been put on trial and how long will it take to complete the proceedings.

14.              We gather that intimidating rumours are still being sedulously circulated and the affected community is still apprehensive that there may be a repetition of what it suffered earlier. Has the administration prepared itself adequately to be able to deal with such a situation if it arises again, or if so why are steps not being taken to convey this assurance to those most afflicted by the past occurrences.

15.              It has been stated before us that the police where present, were indifferent and in some places they even instigated and encouraged the criminal mobs. There are also some eye-witness accounts that the police there themselves indulged in looting and other crimes. Such actions are not only reprehensible but would shake the faith and confidence of the people in the machinery created for their safety and security. What action is being taken to bring such culprits to book and to set an example against the repetition of such activities.

16.              It has been stated before us that some local leaders of a political party were leading and instigating mobs indulging in arson, loot, killing, etc. These local leaders are said to be still at large and they are a cause of continuing panic and insecurity. Why are such instigators and abettors not being apprehended?

17.              It has been stated before us that as soon as they found it possible many victims have lodged their FIRs before the police but no investigation, apprehension of identified culprits or search for the looted property have been started even after the lapse of so much time. Why should this be so?

18.       It has been alleged before us, and the all round circumstances stated before us suggest that there was a plan and a conspiracy to teach the Sikhs a lesson and as a part thereof the administration and the police became inactive from I to 3 November. This for any civilised society would be reprehensible and intolerable. What steps are being contemplated to go to the root of the problem and ascertain the truth in order to ensure that such a paralysis of the administrative machinery does not recur and the life and property of all peace loving citizens are fully protected, irrespective of caste, creed, religion or political beliefs?

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