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First death sentence for India’s 1984 anti-Sikh riots

An Indian court on Tuesday sentenced to death one of the two attackers convicted of killing two men during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and sentenced the other convict to life imprisonment.

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This is the first death sentence awarded in a case related to the riots, in which over 3,000 Sikhs were killed, mainly in New Delhi, in four days of carnage following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on Oct. 31, 1984.

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The special court in Delhi had on Thursday convicted Yashpal Singh, who was sentenced to death and Naresh Sherawat for killing two Sikhs and injuring three of their relatives during the riots in the Mahipalpur area of Delhi.

The quantum of sentence was pronounced on Tuesday.

“While finding the two guilty, additional sessions judge Ajay Pandey had said the prosecution was able to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that both the accused had taken out the victims who were hiding in a room and injured them with dangerous weapons with the intention to kill,’’ the Hindu newspaper reported.

On Nov. 1, 1984, Hardev Singh and two others were at their grocery shops in Mahipalpur when a mob of 800 to 1,000 armed with iron rods, hockey sticks, stones, kerosene oil attacked them and set their shops on fire.

They rushed to their friend Surjeet Singh’s home and locked themselves inside.

They were later joined by Avtar Singh but the mob followed them to the house, stabbed Hardev and threw all of them from the balcony.

The injured were shifted to Safdarjung Hospital, where Avatar Singh and Hardev Singh died.

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The report said that they threw them down from the first floor causing their death.

This is the first verdict in a group of cases reopened for investigation by a special investigation team set up in 2015.

The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994, saying there was insufficient evidence.

Sikh community leaders have accused successive governments of failing to bring to justice those responsible for the massacre.

The violence across the country, but mostly in Delhi, also saw women being raped and people dragged out of their homes to be burnt alive.

However, the convicts can appeal the sentences in a higher court.

NAN


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