New Delhi, May 1 Scores of angry Sikh groups, waving placards and shouting slogans, blocked a busy road and disrupted the Metro service for a few hours to express their outrage over the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
As the Sikh groups promised more such protests, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit pleaded that “the issue not be politicised.”
Holding placards that read "Give justice to '84 victims" and "Hang the culprits who massacred Sikhs", different Sikh groups gathered outside the Tilak Nagar police station in west Delhi since early morning.
Most of them were from the Tilak Vihar area, a resettlement and rehabilitation colony that houses the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The Sikh groups were angry at the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar by a city court Tuesday in a case related to the killing of five people in the Delhi Cantonment area during violence against Sikhs following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984. The court convicted five others in the same case.
Sajjan Kumar's acquittal came almost three decades after an estimated 3,000 Sikhs were killed in three days of riots in India's capital and elsewhere.
The group then barged into the nearby Tilak Nagar Metro station and came onto the track, disrupting the service for a few hours. The agitated protesters also forcefully halted a Metro train.
A group of Sikhs also entered the Subhash Nagar Metro station a few kilometres away. As a result, commuters traveling on the line that connects Dwarka in the west and Noida on the outskirts of Delhi were affected.
The two stations were shut down for two hours. They were re-opened after security officials cleared the protesting crowd.
"We want justice..we don't have any faith in the Congress government. Tomorrow (Thursday) we are planning to protest outside Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's residence at 10.30 a.m.," Manjeet Singh, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, said.
They demanded action against Sajjan Kumar and other accused in riot cases, including another Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, blamed for instigating a mob that led to the murder of three men in a gurdwara in north Delhi in Nov 1, 1984. A city court on April 10 re-opened the case against him.
A Delhi Metro official said: "Subhash Nagar Metro station and Tilak Nagar Metro station were opened for public around 3 p.m. Around 12.45 p.m., scores of protestors entered the station and they jumped into the tracks. A train was forced to halt for around 10 minutes."
Hemendra Singh, spokesperson of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that provides security to the Delhi Metro network, said: "Over 60 protesters barged into Subhash Nagar Metro station. The few CISF personnel could not stop them from entering.”
“A train was delayed for a few minutes. Tilak Nagar Metro station also saw similar scenes. Entry gates of the two stations were closed for over two hours," Hemendra Singh said.
"No damage was caused," Singh said.
According to additional commissioner of police V. Renganathan, the protesting crowd of a few hundreds blocked the busy Najafgarh Road in west Delhi.
He said after the protest the crowd also held a “langar” near the Subhash Nagar Metro station, which led to further traffic chaos.
Reacting to the protests, Dikshit said: “The court has taken a decision. If someone is not satisfied with it, they can go to a higher court. What is the need to politicise it?”
Rajya Sabha member and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral said the Sikhs are disappointed with the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar.
"The SIkh community's hopes were dashed (over Sajjan's acquittal). There is a sense of alienation. It is just not the Sikh community. I think every right thinking secular Indian feels a sense of outrage," he said.
He asked for a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigating Team (SIT) to investigate the anti-Sikh riots.
Divjot Singh, an angry protester said: "After 29 years we are yet to get justice. We will never forget or forgive.”