Photo Caption : Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with  riot widow during  a meeting with families of 84 Anti Sikh Riot Victims, in Tilak Vihar,New Delhi.

Chandigarh, With the high voltage elections to the Delhi Assembly just a few days away on February 7, the genocide of the Sikhs, the term  used by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to describe the brutal killing of the Sikhs in the national capital in November, 1984 in the aftermath of the gunning down of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh security guards to avenge Operation Bluestar, is in focus again. It is the timing of the submission of report by Justice (Retd) G P Mathur with its recommendation to constitute Special Investigation Team that is more important.

The Delhi election this time is not just about exercising the choice as to which party should administer ‘Dil of Hindustan’ that is the national capital but the signals that would emanate from Dilli on February 10 would be multidimensional, affecting the political discourse as such at the national level. For the BJP, this is the second most prestigious election since the Lok Sabha polls despite the fact that there have been elections to the states like Haryana where too a record was created by the saffron brigade. It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who himself has pitched in to mobilise his party’s rank and file and add a new impetus to the otherwise so far sluggish election campaign in the national capital.

One wishes that all the  commissions function with the same efficiency with which Mathur Commission has submitted its report that has been systematically leaked but has gone to the credit of the reporter as a big scoop. Most of the time, such big scoops are deliberate and motivated leaks but a reporter has to build that trust with the source for getting such leaks.

The Union Home Ministry announced the setting up of Mathur Commission on December 23 last and gave a timeframe of three months to submit the report. Normally, the commissions, although given such time limit, go on and on without submitting any recommendation. Sometime, just preliminary report is submitted and the long wait continues for the final report. Perhaps Justice Mathur has created a record of sorts  by submitting its recommendations “recently”, much before the time limit. The timing is important in the context of the Delhi election where every single vote would count this time. Modi had to himself come out to confront Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal who  and his party had been written off after the Lok Sabha election in which the party could manage to win just four seats, that too only in Punjab and it was a complete rout in the rest of the country. Kejriwal has re-emerged like a phoenix to throw a challenge to mighty Modi.

Punjabi vote constitute about 24 per cent of the Delhi electorate with the Sikhs being in sizeable number, effective enough to turn the tide in about a dozen seats. The wounds of the 1984 violence are yet to heal in the absence of any effective judicial intervention. The people can get justice only if the cases are properly investigated and the prosecution produces irrefutable evidence. There has been no conviction despite the fact that 3325 Sikhs, men and women, were killed by the mobs with the police looking to the other side. The killings were designed to teach a lesson to the Sikhs.

The BJP has been in power in alliance with the Akali Dal at the centre with Atal Behari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister earlier but justice was never meted out to the victims of this programmed pogrom. Nine commissions have so far submitted reports. In that sense, here is a recommendation by yet another commission. The issue of getting justice for the victims of this violence had first come on the agenda of AAP in Delhi. It may be mentioned that it was Chief Ministrer Arvind Kejriwal who had recommended to the Delhi Lt Governor to constitute the SIT a day before he said quits. The SITwas never set up. However, with the elections nearing, the government set up the Mathur Commission which has  exhibited such efficiency never seen before by recommending the setting up of the SIT to investigate the cases that have been closed earlier. It is the names of the Congress biggies that had surfaced in the violence against the Sikhs. According to H S Phoolka, there are 237 cases that need to be reinvestigated including those against Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler.

It is the Modi government which announced compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each to the families of the victims. The Sikh organisations had approached the United Nations with the petition that the November 1984 killing of the Sikhs should be declared genocide. However, it was Rajnath Singhwho has described  the pogrom against the Sikhs as genocide.

It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court had supervised the SIT investigation into the 2002 Gujarat riots and hence there have been convictions. In case of 1984 killings, the SIT was never constituted. Now it is to be seen whether the BJP government goes ahead and act upon the recommendation after the elections or not. After all, Modi also carries the baggage of the 2002 riots and the BJP leaders want to initiate debate even on the term secular included in the constitution.