The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is comforted to know that the High Court in India has sentenced 4 men to life in prison on charges of rioting, murder and conspiracy relating to the deaths of two Sikhs who had their properties looted and were burnt alive on November 1, 1984 in India’s capital, New Delhi. Eighteen years earlier, a trial court had acquitted these men for lack of evidence.
“The global Sikh community welcomes this step in the right direction, and hopes that the wheels of justice will continue to move,” said Ram Raghbir Singh Chahal WSO International President. “It is heartwarming to see the fruit of the efforts of people such as advocate Harvinder Singh Phoolka, who have tirelessly sought justice for victims and their families.”
“This judgment represents only a fraction of the criminals that still need to be brought to justice. The brutal murders for which these individuals were charged and convicted, account for only two of the over 2917 innocent Sikhs mercilessly butchered in India’s capital during the first week of November 1984, who’s only crime was that they were Sikhs,” said Chahal.
The Court noted that during this shameful period in India’s history, “the members of one community were singled out and were murdered and their properties were burnt and looted…” The Court went on to say that “We may observe here that the liability of the members of unlawful assembly who knew that an offence was likely to be committed in prosecution of the object for which they had assembled is equal to those who commit it.” “This is precisely what the World Sikh Organization has been saying for over 24 years,” said Gurpreet Singh Bal, President WSO Canada. “It is not enough to convict a few individuals who carried out the murders, justice is not done until the government finds the real criminals – the people who triggered and enabled such widespread killings and lawlessness.”
“Had the government of India taken necessary corrective steps in 1984 it is very likely that India would not be facing the sectarian violence in Orissa that has claimed 11 innocent lives and prompted Pope Benedict XVI to express his profound sadness during his recent Vatican address,” said Gian Singh Sandhu, WSO’s Senior Policy Advisor. In this instance, although the local police has determined that ‘Maoist rebels were responsible’ for initial lawlessness yet, ‘Hindu mobs have burnt down monasteries, churches and an orphanage run by Christians.’
It will require strategic thinking and decisive action to stop this kind of collective criminal behavior before it becomes an unstoppable inferno.
The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit international umbrella organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.
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