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Human Rights Watch to Modi govt: Enact anti-communal violence law, prosecute anti-Sikh riots culprits

By Our Representative
Sharply criticizing “successive Indian governments” for failing to prosecute those most responsible for killings and other abuses during the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, influential human rights body, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has asked the Narendra Modi government should “enact a law against communal violence that would hold public officials accountable for complicity and dereliction of duty.” Saying that independent civil society inquiries have found “complicity” by both police and leaders of the Congress, HRW underlined, “Three decades later, only 30 people, mostly low-ranking Congress supporters, have been convicted for the attacks that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries.”
Pointing out that no police officer has been convicted, and there were no prosecutions for rape, highlighting a comprehensive failure of the justice system, the HRW’s Meenakshi Ganguly said, “India’s failure to prosecute those most responsible for the anti-Sikh violence in 1984 has not only denied justice to Sikhs, but has made all Indians more vulnerable to communal violence. The authorities repeatedly blocked investigations to protect the perpetrators of atrocities against Sikhs, deepening public distrust in India’s justice system.”
Following India Gandhi’s assassination on October 31, 1984, in three days officially 2,733 Sikhs were killed, and their property was looted and destroyed, and many women were raped in the capital. “The authorities quickly blamed every incident of mass communal violence on a spontaneous public reaction—Gandhi’s son and successor, Rajiv Gandhi, declared at a rally in the capital, ‘Once a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it shakes’,” the HRW said.
In its statement, issued from New York, the HRW said, it has already demanded, among other things, to:
  • Establish an independent, time-bound investigation into the 1984 violence cases, including the 237 cases closed by police, with the authority to recommend cases for prosecution.
  • Implement police reforms to insulate the police from political pressure to protect perpetrators, such as occurred after communal violence in 1984 (Delhi), 1992 (Mumbai), 2002 (Gujarat), and 2013 (Muzaffarnagar).
  • Create a police complaints authority both at the state and district levels, as recommended by the Supreme Court, that would investigate public complaints of serious police misconduct.
  • Establish an effective witness protection program to end the intimidation, threats, and harassment of victims and witnesses such as occurred after the 1984 attacks.
  • Enact pending laws against communal violence, compliant with international human rights standards, that would make state officials liable for failure to act to prevent and stop communal violence, including as a matter of superior responsibility. 
  • Adopt measures on nondiscrimination for displaced people, access to relief, and voluntary return and resettlement in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and on the right to redress in line with the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedy and Reparation.
“Thirty years since the horrific massacre, communal violence still breaks out in India, raising the same concerns about accountability,” Ganguly said. “The Indian government’s failure to take even rudimentary steps to bring to justice the authors of the 1984 violence has perpetuated a climate of lawlessness that demands a renewed commitment to ending state complicity in such attacks.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
Sikhs were killed in 1984; since than Congress was in majority. Why they are making noise now; where were they when it happened.
Besides, Sicks killed too many non-sikhs in punjab to attain khalistan, where were they when they were killing innocent people.
Why they are shouting now?
Anonymous said…
Nobody is bothered when the victims are Sikhs or Hindus or Christians. They will have to silently suffer.
Anonymous said…
Dear HRW,

No mention of Kashmiri pandits, who have suffered the largest ethnic cleansing in India. Wonder what got you blindsided... anti-Hindu funding maybe?

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