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1984 anti-Sikh riots: Evidence of murder, arson collected from house in Kanpur, says SIT

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Yogi Adityanath government to probe cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Kanpur has claimed to have collected evidence of murder and arson from a house in the district’s Naubasta area where two people were killed and set ablaze.

Sardul Singh was murdered in his house in Naubasta’s Kidwai Nagar area in November 1984 along with his relative Gurudayal Singh, according to the SIT. After that, their families reportedly fled to Punjab and settled down in Jalandhar. The eight accused in the case were released after the local police filed a closure report, citing lack of evidence.

After taking over the investigation, the SIT visited Jalandhar and contacted the families of the deceased. They told the investigators that the room in which the murders occurred had remained locked since the attack, and the floor had also not been cleaned.

“Since the crime scene was not disturbed…a Forensic Science Laboratory team visited the spot and collected blood samples from the floor and evidence of arson from the walls. The FSL report will establish the incident, said Superintendent of Police and SIT member Balendu Bhushan.

The victims’ families told the SIT that after the riots started, Sardul’s brother Purushotam began shifting family members to neighbouring houses, fearing an attack. Rioters arrived when Sardul and Gurudayal were trying to flee. They assaulted them with sticks and iron rods, killing them on the spot, said Bhushan. The rioters then burnt their bodies and escaped, he added.

Purushotam lodged a case against eight people at the Naubasta police station, according to Bhushan. After taking over the case, the SIT contacted the victims’ families and wrote to Kanpur’s chief medical officer, the senior superintendent of police and district magistrate, seeking records of the double murder. All three told the SIT they do not have records of the case , Bhushan said.

“Two members of the family – Purushotam and one Gurumukh Singh – claimed to have witnessed the incident. If needed, we will get their statements recorded before the magistrate,” added Bhushan.

Sources said the SIT found that five of the eight accused named in the FIR were still alive, and was likely to question them soon.

The anti-Sikh riots in Kanpur erupted following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. At least 127 people were killed in the violence in the district. In 2019, the BJP government ordered the formation of the SIT to examine all 1,251 cases filed in Kanpur linked to the riots.

After it was formed, the SIT shortlisted 40 of the 1,251 cases. Kanpur police had filed chargesheets in 11 of those cases and submitted closure reports in the rest. The SIT has sought the state’s permission to appeal agianst a lower court’s judgements in five of the 11 cases. Of the 29 that were closed, the investigators did not find evidence in nine cases.

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