In a move that assumes political significance ahead of Assembly elections in Punjab, the Centre has decided to reopen 28 cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which will be probed by the Home Ministry-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). This raises the total number of cases to be re-probed by the SIT to 77.
According to sources, the decision was taken after examining various aspects of the cases, which were either closed or did not proceed further due to lack of evidence.
The SIT has also earmarked 28 more cases for further investigation, an official order said.
Of 650 cases registered in connection with the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 49 cases were earlier identified for re-investigation by the SIT on July 29.
In the riots which broke out in retaliation against the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984, more than 3,000 persons were killed. As many as 2,733 deaths were in Delhi alone. As many as 587 cases in connection with the 1984 riots were registered by the Delhi Police, of which 241 cases were later closed. Four of these cases, however, were reopened in 2006 and one in 2013, leading to 35 people being convicted in the cases. The remaining cases stayed closed.
Following a recommendation of a committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice (retd) G P Mathur, the Ministry of Home Affairs had constituted the SIT in February 2015. It comprises two Inspector General-rank IPS officers and a judicial officer. It was expected to reopen cases which the Delhi Police either did not investigate or simply closed for lack of evidence.
On December 10, 2014, the NDA government had announced an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each of those killed in the 1984 riots. In May, the Home Ministry had announced that 1,020 families, which had been hit by the riots and migrated to Punjab from different parts of the country, will be given Rs 2 lakh each as part of a centrally-sponsored rehabilitation scheme.