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India orders fresh inquiry into historic Sikh masscare

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    AFP

New Delhi | Thu, January 11, 2018 | 07:50 am
India orders fresh inquiry into historic Sikh masscare An Indian Sikh devotee pays respect in the early morning on the occasion of the New Year 2018 at the Golden temple in Amritsar on Jan. 1, 2018. (AFP/NARINDER NANU )

India is to reopen nearly 200 unsolved cases associated with a frenzied massacre of Sikhs in 1984 that left nearly 3,000 dead, mainly in the capital New Delhi.

The Supreme Court said Wednesday it would task a new three-member panel with "reinvestigating" 186 cases previously closed by police into the deadly mob violence directed against the Sikh minority.

The carnage erupted just hours after then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, and lasted three days with Sikhs raped and murdered, and their homes and businesses torched.

Few have been brought to justice over the massacre, with government-appointed commissions in the past failing to prosecute more than a handful of minor cases.

Gandhi, also the Congress leader at the time, was shot dead after ordering Indian troops to storm the Golden Temple -- Sikhism's holiest shrine in northern Punjab state -- to flush out separatists from the minority faith holed up inside.

Sikh leaders say the death toll from the pogrom that followed far exceeded the official figure of 3,000, and accuse Congress leaders of fanning the violence that saw Sikhs dragged from their homes and burned alive.

The new investigative panel will be headed by a retired high court judge and assisted by former and serving senior police officials.

The decision to reopen the historic cases was "good news for the victims who have been waiting for justice for the last 33 years," said lawyer HS Phoolka, representing the victims.

India's top investigating agency had blamed senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for inciting the mobs, but he was acquitted by a court in 2013.

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