The case against Jagdish Tytler

| by B.Raman

( April 12, 2013, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) In its online edition, “Outlook” has carried a detailed chronology of the case against Jagdish Tytler, a functionary of the Congress (I), in connection with allegations of his involvement in the murder of some Sikhs during the massacre of about 3000 Sikhs in certain areas of Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards from the Delhi Police on October 31,1984. This may be seen at (here)

The massacres led to two kinds of complaints by sections of the Sikh community . The first was about studied inaction by the Delhi Police in the face of the massacres without effective action to stop them. The second was regarding the role of some functionaries of the Congress (I) in the massacres. Three of the Congress functionaries accused by some sections of the Sikh community of orchestrating the massacres were H.K.L.Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. Bhagat is since dead. Tytler and Sajjan Kumar faced enquiries and investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Government of India ordered Ved Marwah, former Commissioner of Delhi Police, to enquire into complaints of police inaction. When it was found that he had taken his task seriously and was trying to identify police officers guilty of inaction, the enquiry was taken out of his hands. The whole thing was subsequently covered up.

The investigations by the CBI were perceived by large sections of public opinion to be another cover-up exercise to protect the Congress functionaries allegedly involved, particularly Tytler, who was alleged to be close to the family of Indira Gandhi. Tytler did not suffer any political or criminal consequences as a result of the investigations.

In 2007--- 23 years after the massacres--the CBI submitted to the trial court a Final Report claiming that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant Tytler’s prosecution. As it was contended by some Sikhs that the CBI had not examined an eye-witness living in the US, a Sessions Court rejected the FR and ordered the CBI to further investigate the case and record the statement of the alleged eye-witness living in the US.

The CBI did so and submitted another FR in 2009 claiming that there was still no evidence to warrant the prosecution of Tytler. The court accepted the FR this time and the case against Tytler was sought to be closed once for all.

The “Outlook” narrative has quoted Ritu Sarin of the “Indian Express” as finding out that two senior officers of the CBI had recommended that the investigation should be completed and all the evidence put up before a court in the form of a charge-sheet against Tytler and it should be left to the court to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to convict Tytler.

According to “Outlook”, Ashwani Kumar, who was the Director of the CBI from August 2008 to November,2010, rejected their recommendation and ordered the submission of an FR once again stating that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of Tytler. This was done. After his retirement, Shri Ashwani Kumar has recently been appointed as the Governor of Nagaland. This appointment has come in for allegations in sections of the media as a quid pro quo for his decisions favouring the Government when he held office.

Following complaints by sections of the Sikh community that there are other eye-witness now living in the US, who were not examined by the CBI before submitting an FR for a second time in 2009, a Sessions Court has ordered a further investigation of the charges against Tytler by the CBI.

The massacres of about 3000 Sikhs after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, with some functionaries of the Congress allegedly playing an active role in orchestrating the massacres, has illustrated the cover-up culture of the Congress, which pushed under the carpet complaints of inaction by the Delhi Police and then sought to distort the CBI investigation to ensure that no functionary of the Congress suffered adverse consequences.

A clean chit was twice sought to be given to Tytler on the basis of an incomplete investigation. He continues to be an important member of the Congress, defended and protected by senior leaders of the Congress and he roams around as a free man appearing in one TV channel after another to discredit the witnesses against him outside a court of law.

In the years since 1984, the credibility of the CBI as the premier investigating agency of the Government of India has repeatedly taken a beating. The entire investigation process in the Government of India stands discredited at the political and professional levels and hardly anyone takes the CBI seriously

If the credibility of our criminal justice system has to be restored and if we have to win the confidence of the Sikh community, it is important that the further investigation against Tytler be done in a time-bound manner by a special investigation team reporting directly to the court.

We have failed to do justice to our Sikh community for nearly three decades after the massacres were committed. It is time to end this Government-sponsored charade of investigation and identify and punish the guilty.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )