- Naresh Sherawat, 68, and Yashpal Singh, 55, were found guilty of murder
- The verdict has given "Sikhs a ray of hope", said Harsimrat Kaur Badal
- Congress has also welcomed the verdict saying "we are proud and happy"
One of the two attackers convicted of killing two men during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 has been sentenced to death by a Delhi court. The other convict will spend life in prison, the court said today. Naresh Sherawat, 68, and 55-year-old Yashpal Singh were convicted of killing the two men in south Delhi's Mahipalpur. They have also been fined Rs 35 lakh each.
Yashpal Singh's death punishment in the anti-Sikh riots is the first since 1996 when Kishori Lal, a butcher, was sentenced to death in at least five cases by lower courts. The Supreme Court later commuted it to life term.
Sherawat worked at the Mahipalpur post office while Yashpal Singh was a transporter.
The verdict has given "Sikhs a ray of hope", said Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
Today, the justice has been delivered to 2 culprits of #1984SikhGenocide because of the efforts of NDA govt. I thank PM @narendramodi ji for setting up SIT in 2015 & reopening the case closed by Delhi Police in 1994. We will not rest till the last murderer is brought to justice.- Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) November 20, 2018
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh welcomed the verdict and said, "Justice has finally been meted out to the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. Hope the others involved in the attacks are also soon brought to book for their horrendous and inhuman acts."
His party also felt "proud and fortunate". "The Congress' stand is clear. This is a legal process, a legal process which must be allowed to work out its course and we are very proud, happy and fortunate that it is working out its course," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.
On November 1, 1984, Hardev Singh and two others were at their grocery shops in Mahipalpur when a mob of 800-1,000 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. The mob followed them to the house and stabbed Hardev before throwing all of them from the balcony.
An eyewitness and relative of the two victims said that the mob below then poured petrol and some powder in their mouths which caught fire. "Tyres were hung around their necks and burnt. As they struggled, the attackers laughed and said 'they're like dancing monkeys'," remembered the relative.
The injured were taken to Safdarjung Hospital where Avatar Singh and Hardev Singh died.
The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for lack of evidence.
The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, formed in 2015, probed the 60 cases it had reopened out of the total 293, and succeeded in getting conviction in the first case last week.
It filed "untraced report" in 52 cases and of the eight cases being investigated, charge-sheets have been filed in five while the rest, in which senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar is an accused, are pending investigation.
Both the men were arrested after the court held them guilty of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt.
The official records say that over 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguard. The violence across the country, but mostly in Delhi, saw women being raped and people dragged out of their homes to be burnt alive.