It was a shady autumn morning of November 1, 1984. 16-year-old Nirpreet Kaur had little idea about what was going to happen next. By the time she could realise anything, a frenzied mob, instigated by Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, attacked his father Nirmal Singh near a gurdwara in Delhi's Raj Nagar. Nirmal Singh, the head priest of Raj Nagar Gurudwara, was doused in kerosene by the mob. But they might have lost the matchbox and was looking for one to burn him alive. A policeman standing at a little distance to them shouted and gave the matchbox to someone from the mob. The man took no time to set Nirmal Singh on fire. Nirpreet was crying helplessly and watching her father burn to flames. Singh fought back.
He jumped into an open drain. The mob pulled him out, tied to an electric pole and again set him on fire. Nirpreet could not ask for help as police at the spot remained mute spectator and one of them even helped the mob. However, Singh again jumped into the drain but his efforts were not sufficient in front of a mob thirsty for the blood. They again pulled him out of the drain, hit him iron rod and sprinkled some white powder. Not just her father, but humanity also died in front of Nirpreet that day.
Over 3,500 people (official figure) belonging to Sikh community were killed between November 1 and 4 following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards who were angry over Indian Army’s Operation Blue Star against Khalistani militants hiding inside the golden Temple in Amritsar. Unofficial death court was over 8,000.
A day after the killing of her father, Nirpreet claimed that she saw Sajjan Kumar instigating a mob to kill every Sardar who assassinated Indira Gandhi. Sajjan Kumar was sentenced to life imprisonment by Delhi High court on Monday.
Nirpreet said that her life became hell after she reported Sajjan Kumar instigating the mob by his vicious speeches. She charged under the TADA law for having links with banned Sikh militant groups. Even her mother had to spent three years in jail.
"I saw Sajjan Kumar giving a speech saying that not a single Sardar who killed Indira Gandhi should be saved. My life became hell since then. I had false cases against me and I was jailed. My mother too wasn't spared. She too had to spend three years in jail," she said while narrating her horror.
With Delhi High Court’s verdict today, Nirpreet said she finally got justice after 34 years as Sajjan Kumar, who led the mob that killed five people, including her father, during the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, will spend her entire life in jail.
"I have got justice after 34 years... He (Sajjan Kumar) will go to jail," she said in a choking voice while tears rolled down her face.
Pronouncing its verdict, the Delhi High Court said, “It was important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail. The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt."