The 1984 Anti-Sikh riots - history and aftermath

Last Updated 17 December 2018, 12:31 IST

The 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots are in the news with the conviction of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a case tied to the riots. He was sentenced to "imprisonment till the remainder of his natural life". The court held that the mass killings in Delhi and elsewhere in November 1984 were crimes against humanity.

Leaders across the political spectrum have welcomed the conviction. DH brings you a timeline of the case -- the history, the riots and the aftermath.

1. In 1984, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, ordered a military operation (Operation Blue Star) to remove Sikh militants with weapons inside the Golden Temple.

2. The operation was the biggest internal security mission undertaken by the Indian Army.

3. It was to crush the Khalistan movement -- a political Sikh nationalist movement aimed at creating an independent state for Sikhs.

4. During the operation, the Army used tanks to destroy the Akal Takhat and gained control over the Harmandir Sahib complex.

5. Official reports put the number of Indian Army deaths at 83 and the number of civilian deaths at 49 during the operation.

6. During Operation Blue Star, the media in Punjab faced a blackout.

7. The military assault led to tensions with members of the Sikh community worldwide.

8. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards on Oct. 31, 1984, four months after Operation Blue Star. Satwant Singh and Beant Singh fired 33 bullets at Indira Gandhi.

9. Anti-Sikh rioting paralysed New Delhi, ultimately claiming at least 3,000 lives; unofficial estimates are much higher.

10. Sikh men were beaten, stabbed, doused with kerosene and burned to death by mobs. In some neighborhoods, children were killed and women were raped. At least 50,000 people were displaced, and tens of thousands of Sikh homes and businesses were burned to the ground. Forty-three Sikhs were also attacked in other cities across northern India.

11. In the year 2000, the GT Nanavati Commission was set up to probe riots-related cases.

Relatives of Indian Sikhs killed in the 1984 riot hold placards during a protest demanding justice in New Delhi. PTI Photo
Relatives of Indian Sikhs killed in the 1984 riot hold placards during a protest demanding justice in New Delhi. PTI Photo

12. In 2010, Karkardooma Court issues summons against Sajjan Kumar, Balwan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Captain Bagmal, Girdhari Lal, Krishan Khokkar, the late Maha Singh and Santosh Rani, who are named as the accused.

13. In 2017, the SIT files its chargesheet naming Naresh Sherawat and Yahspal Singh and cites 18 witnesses in total.

14. In 2018, a Delhi court awards the death penalty to convict Yashpal, the first capital punishment in the case and gives a life term to Sherawat.

15. On Dec. 17, 2018, Sajjan Kumar's acquittal in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case was reversed by the Delhi High Court, and he was sentenced to life in prison for criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

(Published 17 December 2018, 11:54 IST)

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