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Probe team picks evidence from ‘locked house’ 36 years after Sikh riots

Uttar Pradesh: After more than 3 decades of anti-Sikh riots in Kanpur sparked by Indira Gandhi’s death, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) dug into a house in the city to collect evidence, including human remains. Tej Pratap Singh(45)  and his son Satpal Singh(22) were burned alive in a house in Govind Nagar on November 1, 1984. The family members who survived moved to a refugee camp, then to Punjab and Delhi, selling off the house. The new owners never entered the two rooms where the killings took place and the SIT found them almost untouched.

Yogi Adityanath’s government created the SIT to investigate the violence against Sikhs in 1984. After Delhi, Kanpur saw the worst rioting with 127 deaths. With Tej Singh’s wife, and another son and daughter-in-law having departed Kanpur, an FIR had been filed in the case by a Sub-Inspector against anonymous persons, under IPC Sections 396 (dacoity with murder), 436 (mischief with intent to destroy the house, etc) and 201 (destruction of evidence).

On Tuesday, the SIT and forensic experts entered Tej Singh’s former house with an eyewitness to the incident who lives nearby. Balendu Bhushan, the superintendent of police and a member of the SIT, told The Indian Express that the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) had determined that the samples were human remains. Having determined that the crime scene had not been disturbed, Bhushan called an FSL team. ‘There is evidence that murders were committed here,’ he added. New occupants kept to the first floor, locking the rooms on the ground floor associated with the killings, not even entering to clean them.

The SIT also recorded the statement of Tej Singh’s surviving son Charanjeet Singh, now 61, before a magistrate on Wednesday. Charanjeet lives in Delhi with his wife and children. A couple of years ago, Tej Singh’s wife passed away. As per the SIT report, on November 1, 1984, a mob forced its way into Tej Singh’s house and seized him and Satpal as other family members hid. The two were killed and then the house was robbed. Bhushan said, ‘Charanjeet witnessed the incident while he was hiding. In his statement, he named the individuals involved in the murders’.

Earlier this year, the SIT collected blood samples and evidence of arson from a house in Naubasta, Kanpur, where Sardul Singh and his relative Gurudayal Singh had been killed and set on fire. Similarly, the family had moved away, leaving the house unlocked. Sardul’s family told the SIT that after the riots began, his brother Purushotam tried to shift all the family members into neighboring houses. Sardul and Gurudayal were trying to flee when rioters arrived. Purushotam filed a case against eight people, but the accused were released by the local police after they filed a closure report citing lack of evidence.

Following the riots, the Adityanath government asked the SIT to reexamine 1,251 cases. For further investigation, 40 candidates had been shortlisted. Kanpur Police had filed charge sheets in 11 of these cases and closure reports in the rest. The SIT had requested permission from the state government to appeal the judgments of lower courts in five of the 11 charge-sheeted cases. The matter is still pending with the government. The SIT is reinvestigating 19 of 29 cases where closure reports were filed by the police. The remaining ones could not be probed since there were no evidence in them. The complainants and witnesses in nine of the cases refused to come forward.

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The SIT investigation has reached an advanced stage in 11 of the 29 cases, sources said, and a legal opinion has been sought. During its investigations, SIT teams travelled to states such as Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh to meet witnesses and record their statements. In addition, the SIT is trying to find the 135 Kanpur residents who filed affidavits with the Ranganath Mishra Commission, set up by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986 to investigate the anti-Sikh riots. Charanjeet was among those who filed an affidavit before the panel, identifying the people responsible for the deaths of his father and brother.


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