New Delhi, India: Having held them guilty on August 22 of attempting to murder three members of a Sikh family during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a Delhi court today sentenced life imprisonment to the three convicts, Mangal Sein alias Billa, Bhagat Singh and Brij Mohan Verma. Besides, a fine of Rs 6.18 lakh each was slapped on the trio, failure to pay which would invite an additional imprisonment for four years.
While reading out the sentence, Additional Sessions Judge Surinder S. Rathi pronounced that out of the collective fine, Rs 10 lakh shall be given as compensation to injured Jagmohan Singh and Rs 8 lakh to another injured Gurinder Singh.
During the arguments on duration of jail term, public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed sought maximum punishment of life imprisonment to the convicts, contending that “they committed the crime without provocation and that the victims had no defence and were taken by surprise”.
On their part, the convicts pleaded leniency on the ground of ill-health and old age. The anti-riots cell of the Delhi police had probed the incident in which Joginder Singh and his two sons Jagmohan Singh and Gurvinder Singh were seriously injured while their house was set ablaze by a mob led by the convicts on November 1, 1984.
The case was re-investigated by the police on the recommendation of Justice Rangnath Mishra Commission in 1992 following an affidavit filed by Joginder Singh. The court had framed charges under Sections 148, 395, 436, 307 and 149 of the IPC. The prosecution produced nine witnesses, including Joginder’s sons, who had identified the accused during the trial.
A high drama was witnessed during the proceedings of the case in the court today with a number of relatives of the victims, and even the convicts, breaking down after the judgement was pronounced.
The magistrate also criticised the role played by the police: “The slothful and the quiescent role played by the police and the government, who were at the helm of affairs, resulted in loss of priceless lives and valuable property of riot victims, which could have been saved.”