1984 riots: Troubles mount for Kamal Nath

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who is battling infighting in his Congress party, could face further trouble as a journalist and another person have come forward to depose against him in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, strengthening the case of Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 35-year-old carnage in Delhi and some other places.
Kamal Nath was an accused in the case initially, but the court had found no evidence against him.
However, the 72-year-old veteran Congress leader and a Gandhi family loyalist, could now face trouble as London-based journalist Sanjay Suri and Mukhtiar Singh have expressed readiness to depose in the case.
In the light of the new development, the Union Home Ministry has given its nod for reopening the case, as a result of which Kamal Nath will face fresh inquiry for his alleged role in the massacre of Sikhs in the aftermath of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in New Delhi on October 31, 1984.
Suri, who is now based in London told IANS over phone, “I will depose before the SIT whenever asked to do so.”
He, however, refused to speak on the issue further.
Earlier in the day, addressing a press conference in the national capital, Siromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said, “In a anti-sikh riot case registered at Parliament Street Police Station, there are two witnesses Mukhtiar Singh and Sanjay Suri, who had filed affidavits before the Nanavati Commission regarding the lead role played by Kamal Nath and Sathe during the genocide.”
He said they in their affidavits had briefed how Kamal Nath directed a mob (a group of Congress leaders) to assassinate Sikhs in the national capital.
Sirsa said this case was closed due to a technical glitch and the name of Kamal Nath was deliberately kept out of it.
Sirsa later told IANS, “Suri has said he stands by his statement in the affidavit earlier in the case. He has said Kamal Nath was giving instructions to the mob therough his body language.”
The SAD leader, who is also the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee President, said that Singh, who is the other witness in the case is facing security threat.
His remarks came soon after the Union Home Ministry on Monday gave the nod to reopen the case against Kamal Nath and several others, which means the Congress veteran will face fresh inquiry for his alleged involvement in the case pertaining to post Indira Gandhi assassination.
The SIT is likely to consider fresh evidence against the veteran Congress leader, which allegedly mentions that he had instigated a mob near the national capital’s Rakabganj Gurudwara during the 1984 riots.
The Narendra Modi government had set up the SIT in 2015 to probe the 1984 riots.
Kamal Nath is considered a Gandhi family loyalist.
Pressure upon Kamal Nath has been building since last year after the conviction of Sajjan Kumar in the same case by the Delhi High Court. Kumar, after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, was accused of inciting and orchestrating mob violence against the Sikh community across Delhi.
Kamal Nath’s name featured alongside other Congress leaders of the time — Kumar, H.K.L. Bhagat, Jagadish Tytler among others.
Earlier this year, the Income Tax department also conducted searches at 52 locations in April, including in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, on charges of tax evasion and hawala transactions against close aides of the Chief Minister and others.
Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last month in connection with a bank fraud case and his linkages with the AgustaWestland case.
According to Congress leaders, Kamal Nath’s nam came on the government radar after the Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, Kamal Nath had last year refuted all allegations. “There is no case, FIR, or chargesheet against me. Today they are raking up this matter (1984 anti-Sikh riots). You can understand politics behind this. Did an eyewitness tell you (about his involvement)?” Kamal Nath had said.
Meanwhile, Union Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed the Congress, saying the Nanavati Commission set up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had found evidence of systematic killing of Sikhs in 1984.
“But between 2005 and 2014, the UPA government did not take any steps to provide justice to the victims. The Modi government took steps that gave justice to victims of the 1984 killings,” Prasad had said.
Anti-sikh riots had erupted in several areas of the national capital in the aftermath of assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. At least 3,000 people were killed in the riots.

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