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Pressure Mounts On 1984 Eyewitness To Change Testimony

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Pressure Mounts on 1984 EyeWitness To Change Testimony


For more than 26 years, the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms have been fighting a long and lonely battle for justice. Justice is not only being delayed but virtually denied by powerful Congress leaders - ironically even by those whose job is to protect the interests of the minorities.

Former member of Parliament Sajjan Kumar has been accused of instigating mobs to kill innocent Sikhs in 1984 in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination. However, Harinder Singh Baweja, Editor, investigations, has exposed the ugly, uncomfortable truth about him.

A special investigation by Headlines Today has found that Nirpreet Kaur, a key witness against Sajjan Kumar, was being pressurised by H.S. Hanspal, a senior member of the Minorities Commission.

Hanspal, a prominent Congressman, who was the chief whip for the party in the Rajya Sabha in the early 80s, can be seen, sitting in his office, speaking to Nirpreet Kaur, who saw Sajjan Kumar come to Raj Nagar locality in Delhi Cantonment during the pogrom and say, "Ek bhi Sardar zinda nahi bacchna chaahiye (Not a single Sikh should remain alive)."

In the meeting in his office, Hanspal tells Nirpreet to sit down "aamne saamne (face-to-face)" with the person she was to soon testify against. Headlines Today accompanied Nirpreet to Hanspal's office. The Minorities Commission member was a bit wary of a stranger but that doesn't stop him from trying to persuade Nirpreet to have a meeting with Sajjan Kumar.

Hanspal (in Punjabi): Compensation wali gal karni heh yaan doosri gal karni heh (You want to talk about compensation or the other thing?)

Nirpreet: Tussi unha nu puchho, ko o ki chande neh (You ask him [sajjan Kumar] what he wants.)

A little later...

Hanspal (gesturing towards the Headlines Today reporter): Can we talk for two minutes? koi nahi, enna nu patta hai sab kuchh kyon ki mein kuchh witness toh chuppana nahi chandi jo vi hoyega enha de samne hoyega. (Never mind, he knows everything because I don't want to hide anything from the witnesses).

A little later...

Nirpreet: Dekho, marya taan hai unha ne. Uthe aa ke meri gal khadi ho jaandi heh. Chalo, thwade kehan the, mein case vapas vi ley laine haan, par o kuchh taan karan, public apology. Kuchh mehsoos taan karan (See, he has committed murders ... that is where I get stuck. Even if I withdraw the case because you are telling me to, he should also do something, some public apology. He should also feel that he has done a wrong).

Hanspal: Amne saamne baith ke gal kar lo (Sit in front of each other and talk).

Nirpreet: O court vich aande ne, hasde khedde, mera haur man sarda heh. Unha nu bilkul vi sharma nahi heh ki assi enna vada kam keet heh. (He [sajjan] comes to court laughing and jesting and it makes me feel worse. He has no shame; no acknowledgment of the enormity of his crime.

Hanspal: Baith ke gal karan ge.(He'll sit down and talk to you.)

Hanspal is not speaking about compensation, as his job profile demands. He continues to exert pressure on Nirpreet. He wants her to sit face-to-face with Sajjan Kumar and he keeps telling her, not once but three times, to call Ahulwalia, a common friend.

Hanspal: Should I call Ahluwalia?

Nirpreet: Hearings are on in the court. I'll call him.

Hanspal is keen on an early meeting and once again says he could call Ahluwalia.

Nirpreet: Can you give me his number?

Hanspal: Shall I call Ahluwalia? I have his number.

Nirpreet: Yes, please call.

Hanspal: Tussi mainu shaam nu das deyo (Let me know by the evening). Kal ya parso beh jao (Sit down together tomorrow or the day after).

Nirpreet has not just given graphic details of how her father, Nirmal Singh, was killed, but has now also testified in court on what exactly happened that morning in 1984, when Sajjan Kumar came to the Raj Bagh locality, where she stayed with her parents.

Nirpreet Kaur says, "The mob caught hold of my father. Balwan Khokhar and Mahendra Yadav were there. They sprinkled kerosene over him and started looking for a match box and a policeman told them, 'doob maro, tum se ek Sardar bhi nahi jalta' - (Idiots! You can't even kill a single Sikh properly!) - and then the policeman gave them a match box to set my father on fire. My father jumped into a nearby nullah (drain) to save himself, but the mob came back and Khokhar hit my father with a rod."

The next morning, on November 2, Nirpreet saw Congress leader Sajjan Kumar standing in a police jeep and addressing a mob. "I saw a mob and heard the noise of slogans. Our vehicle stopped there and I saw that in the police vehicle Sajjan Kumar was standing and was addressing the mob, saying 'Ek bhi Sardar jinda nahi bacchna chaahiye, jo ghar Sardaron ka bacha hai, usey bhi jalaa do. In Sardaron ko maaron, inhone hamari maan ko maara heh, ye saa(n)p ke bachche hain." - (Not a single Sikh should remain alive. Any houses of Sikhs that remain should be burnt down too. Kill these Sikhs, they have killed our mother. They are young snakes, all.)

This is the testimony Sajjan Kumar and his mediators wanted to stop. Nirpreet's startling claim is that she was offered as much as Rs 30 million [approx. US $750,000.00] to turn a hostile witness and help him.

Headlines Today tried to contact senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, but he refused to comment.

Says Nirpreet, "I was offered Rs. three crore (30 million) to change my testimony. Hanspal kept telling me to not mention Sajjan Kumar's name."


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