New Delhi: Many people from the Sikh community came together in New Delhi on Wednesday to protest against the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in one of the cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots. While many stormed a metro station in west Delhi in the afternoon disrupting services for sometime, the others marched to a police station blocking traffic in the area.
The protesters entered Subhash Nagar Metro Station at 12:15 pm and blocked a metro train from leaving the station. Shouting slogans and carrying placards like 'Hang 1984 Culprits' and 'Give us Justice', protesters also marched to the Tilak Nagar Police Station in west Delhi and blocked traffic in the area.
Following the protests, the Metro Stations at Subash Nagar and Tilak Nagar, where there is a considerable population of Sikhs, were closed for the public indefinitely. The stations have been opened to public now. Metro services on the Blue Line connecting Noida to Dwarka and Vaishali to Dwarka were disrupted for sometime. While the services resumed after the protesters left the stations, commuters were still not allowed entry and exit from the two stations.
"Protesters came in around 12:15 pm. But when they were requested to leave, they left peacefully. No damage caused to metro property," said CISF PRO Hemender Singh. "Tilak Nagar, Subhash Nagar Metro Stations have been shut. They will be opened once the situation calms down," said the DMRC.
Though protesters had to leave the metro station, they did not relent. Continuing with their agitation outside the stations, the protesters said they will again come together on Thursday to protest at Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence. The protesters will gather outside Sonia's house at 11 am on Thursday.
The agitators also appealed to Sikhs all over world to join them. "We appeal to Sikhs all over the world to join us in the protests," said one of the protesters.
Showing his support to the protests, Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral said the anger was justified. He demanded an SIT should be constituted to probe Sajjan Kumar's role in the riots. "Hope that the Supreme Court will wake up and call for an SIT, just like it did in Gujarat," he said. "Don't want to politicise the issue. It's a question of human rights. This is no time to play politics," added Gujral.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit said the issue was being politicised. "Sajjan Kumar issue is being politicised. If some people are not satisfied with the court verdict, they always have the option to appeal in a higher court," she said.
Sajjan Kumar, a former Congress MP, was acquitted by a court in Delhi on Tuesday in one of the cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Angered by the verdict, a large number of people had gathered at the court complex on Tuesday and one of them had even thrown a shoe at the judge.
Protests in Jammu
Protests were also held in Jammu. Sikh groups in Jammu blocked the Jammu-Kashmir Highway on Wednesday morning. Activists of several Sikh organisations led by Harjeet Singh sat on a dharna and took out demonstrations at Digiana on the outskirts of the city.
Raising anti-government slogans, the protesters termed the acquittal of the Congress leader as an "injustice" to the Sikh community in the country. "Injustice has been done with us. The judgement has shown that Sikhs are second class citizens of the country", Singh said.
"3000 Sikhs were killed on the roads of Delhi. They were brutally murdered, their houses were burnt down," he said, adding the judgement has shocked the entire Sikh community, who were hoping for justice. "We will fight back. We want justice. We don't have any faith in the Congress government", he said.
In Talab Tiloo area of Jammu, a group of Sikh youth held demonstrations against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar. "Hearts of all Sikhs are weeping over the judgement," Charanjeet Singh, a protester, said.
Protests in Punjab
Shiromani Akali Dal Haryana (Badal) on Wednesday protested at Gurudwara Manji Sahib in Ambala city against Sajjan Kumar's acquittal. The leaders raised slogans against the Central government and said the decision had hurt the sentiments of Sikh community.
Meanwhile, Haryana State Akali Dal members led by SGPC member Harpal Singh Pali also protested against the acquittal of the Congress leader. Pali said it was decided in an emergency meeting on Wednesday attended by several Sikh leaders that on May 1 the Sikh families in Haryana would switch off the lights in their houses from 8 pm to 9 pm to lodge their protest.
Sikh-Americans disappointed with Sajjan's acquittal
The Sikh-American community also expressed its deep disappointment over Sajjan Kumar's acquittal. In a statement, California-based North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) alleged the investigating agency "colluded with the guilty" to let them go scot-free and said the verdict has dashed hopes of people who waited for nearly three decades for justice.
"The special CBI court verdict surprised us as the court acquitted the Congress leader but convicted five other accused - Mahinder Yadav, Balwan Khokhar, Krishan Khokhar, Captain Bhamal and Girdhari Lal," NAPA Chairman Dalwinder Singh Dhoot said in a statement.
The court let off Sajjan Kumar in the 29-year-old case in which he was accused of murder and of instigating a riotous mob that killed five Sikhs in Delhi's cantonment area. Sajjan Kumar, a former Lok Sabha MP from Outer Delhi who was denied Congress ticket for 2009 elections, still faces trial in another 1984 rioting case. In a third case, the Delhi Police has filed a closure report, saying there was no evidence against the Congress leader to implicate him.
(With additional information from PTI)