New Delhi: A special investigating team of Kanpur police, probing the 1984 Dabhauli massacre case, in which houses of Sikh families were allegedly burnt down — killing dozens — is out to arrest the 51 of 96 accused who are yet to be taken into custody.
The Dabhauli incident of Kanpur was part of a nationwide anti-Sikh riot which rocked the country in 1984, following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31 October that year. Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh.
The riots resulted in long-drawn court cases against many accused.
A total of 127 people were allegedly killed in Kanpur during the riots.
The head of the SIT team, deputy inspector general of Kanpur police Balendu Bhushan, confirmed to ThePrint Wednesday that three more accused were arrested from their homes, following a raid Wednesday.
The three accused — 58-year-old Guddu alias Anil Nigam, 67-year-old Chandra Pratap Singh and 66-year-old Ramchandra Pal (66) — are residents of the Dabhauli area in Kanpur Nagar district, and were allegedly part of a mob that set ablaze houses of members of the Sikh community, killing over a dozen people.
All three have been produced before a court that remanded them to 14 days of police custody and booked under sections 147 and 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 302 (murder),436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A total of 22 accused, among the 96 identified in the case, have now been arrested, according to police. Some of those arrested include owners of small, local businesses. Twenty-three are dead.
The arrests come decades after the alleged massacre.
UP police also claimed it had found remains of victims allegedly killed by a rioters in Dabhauli . The SIT is investigating nearly 40 cases — registered in two police station in the area after the riots — relating to homes of Sikh families being allegedly set ablaze.
Members of the investigating team, which has been working on these cases for the past three years alleged that the “excruciating” delay in arrests was caused “due to the red tape around accumulating addresses and statuses of all the 96 accused from different cities”.
This SIT was formed three years back by the Uttar Pradesh government after the Supreme Court ordered the state to reinvestigate these cases.
‘Will arrest the rest soon’
Alleged victims of anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in Kanpur had moved the apex court in April 2017, alleging that no action had been taken against the perpetrators of the incident and that the state police had taken no initiative for rehabilitation and compensation of victims.
The Supreme Court, then headed by Chief Justice Deepak Mishra, had attached this petition to another PIL on anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, where almost 3,000 Sikhs were allegedly killed in the riots.
Speaking to ThePrint, Bhushan said “We conducted a raid Wednesday where we arrested three people, who were part of a mob that set ablaze many homes with people in it. We have put them in jail since we have been remanded custody and they were picked up from their respective homes.”
He added: “The cases are immensely messy as we had to gather all the witnesses, take their statements and rework all the details of the 96 accused. Among them 23 are dead and the remaining 51 are now under our radar. We intend to arrest them in a similar modus operandi.”
When asked about the delay in arrests, Bhushan said, “We were given the case when all the details procured till then were a mess and we had to detangle a lot. Attempting to approach all the witnesses, some of whom, were dead by then, complicated matters.”
He added: “Not all of the accused stayed back in Dabhauli area, many migrated to other parts of Uttar Pradesh. Locating them also was a massive operation. Now the aim is to find the absconding ones.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)