Jagdish Kaur, is the courageous woman who played a key role in getting Life term for Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in connection with the anti-Sikh riots case of 1984. The sentence was given by High court Delhi, and it has taken 34 years to get justice.
In all these years, she has suffered and faced a lot due to the riots and the legal proceedings that ensued in the following three decades. She knew she was up against a system. A system that would try to delay justice for as long as possible or try deny it
She had to face a lot of pressure whenever she went to the court as a witness but she never gave up. It hurts her more when she recollects that her father was a freedom fighter while her husband had served the army
“They convicted me under TADA for nine years. They didn’t even spare my mother who had to spend three and a half years in jail. I was offered a lot of money. What would I do with the money? I was determined to unveil those responsible and expose their taint”, she said.
The Delhi Court said the riots were a ” crime against humanity” perpetrated by those who enjoyed ” political patronage.” 34 years after the riots, Sajjan Kumar has been sent to jail. The bench said the accused in the case were brought to justice “primarily on account of the courage and perseverance of three eyewitnesses” – Jagdish Kaur, her cousin Jagsher Singh and Nirpreet Kaur.
Kaur said her fight for justice was far from over and she would struggle till the last breath of her life. ” I want Sajjan Kumar to hang. I have seen my son burn to death in front of my eyes. And this was done at the behest of Sajjan Kumar. I will go to the Supreme Court but I must say for the first time I feel this is my own country.”
Jagdish Kaur, now 79, saw her husband, son and three cousins getting battered and burnt by mobs on November 1 and 2 , 1984. She recounted the horrific events, stating that around 1.30 to 2 pm, on November 1, a mob entered her house, armed with lethal weapons, brutally murdering her husband by crushing his head till he dropped dead. She found her son burnt and on the brink of death and provided him a few drops of water before he breathed his last. She said that she was on her way to the police station to lodge a report about the killing when she saw MP Sajjan Kumar stepping out of his jeep at around 9 am on November 2 and instructing the gathering, ” Not a single Sikh should be spared. Hindus who have sheltered Sikhs in their homes should be burnt and they should be killed as well. ”
She said after shifting her son’s body back into the house, she went to the police post to get help for cremation. “I still remember what the ASI said. He said ‘bhag yahan se, abhi to aur marenge,” recalls Kaur, who used furniture in the house to perform the last rites.
The 1984 Sikh Massacre was a series of organised riots against Sikhs in India by anti-Sikh mobs in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Sources estimate the number of deaths at about 8,000-17,000.