I N D E X
This report is the outcome of a recommendation
made by the Misra Commission to appoint a committee for the purpose of
inquiring into the delinquencies and good conduct of its police officials
during the carnage. The committee comprised two members – former chief
justice of the Delhi high court Dalip Kapoor and Miss Kusum Lata Mittal,
retired secretary to the Government of India.
Though its task was clear-cut, the
Kapoor-Mittal committee had to plod for three years to make its inquiries
because the Government did not till the end empower it to summon officials
and record evidence. It took almost a year for the Government to permit
the committee even to use the documents of the Misra Commission. The stalemate
created a rift among the members as Kapoor felt that, in the absence of
the power to examine police officials, he could not indict any of them.
Thus, at the end of the inquiry, the two members of the committee gave
not one but two separate reports. We are concerned here with Mittal’s
report alone because she took the issue further by naming the police officials
who, in her opinion, deserved to be commended for their good conduct or
proceeded against departmentally or straightaway dismissed for their delinquencies.
The importance of Mittal’s report
is that it confirms that there was a pattern almost throughout Delhi of
police officials of various levels committing acts of omission and commission
to facilitate the massacre of Sikhs. In fact, Mittal’s report for the
first time supplied the names of the specific officials who connived with
the miscreants and the details of their respective delinquencies. But
the legal constraints placed on the committee as such does seem to have
prevented Mittal from ascertaining the truth in its entirety. Take for
instance the case of senior police officer Amod Kanth who was rightly
commended by Mittal for ensuring that Delhi’s Central district, which
was under his charge, was relatively less affected by the violence. But
then, since she was forced to rely mainly on the information given to
her by the police, she also commends him repeatedly for an incident which
actually shows Kanth in a poor light. @@ For details, go to Rewarded police
To its credit, the Mittal report further
exposed the role of the administration in shielding delinquent police
officials. Take for instance Shoorvir Singh Tyagi, the SHO in charge of
Trilokpuri which saw the highest number of killings in Delhi. He made
no effort to stop the miscreants who started the killings
in Trilokpuri on November 1. The first arrests took place only
on the evening of November 2 when the carnage in the area came to the
knowledge of the press. Tyagi
himself was immediately suspended and booked for his negligence. Taking
note of Tyagi’s “criminal misconduct,” Mittal records a shocking finding
that he got away with it for “technical reasons.” The court discharged
him in the case that was booked against him because the police had failed
to seek the necessary sanction for prosecution before filing their chargesheet.
Mittal also said that the police had charged Tyagi with only minor offences,
which made the case time-barred.
Thus, the Mittal report drove home
the message that the issue is not just the culpability of individual police
officials. The unseen patrons of Tyagi and other such delinquent officials
are no less culpable. For all the adverse publicity they got for the carnage
and for all the assurances the Government gave to take action against
delinquent officials, the police had the gumption to subvert the case
against the SHO who presided over the biggest massacre in Delhi. The British
colonial regime would appear to have had a better record: Gen Dyer was
not spared for ordering the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Could Tyagi have
been shielded in that manner without complicity at the highest rungs not
only in the police but also in the Government?
The Mittal report rendered greater
service by giving the lie to the Misra Commission’s finding that the violence
escalated because the police stations failed to convey the gravity of
the situation to their superiors. Mittal quoted wireless messages to show
that the DCP of east Delhi, Sewa Dass, was repeatedly warned about the
violence in Trilokpuri from the afternoon of November 1. Yet, Dass claimed
in keeping with the Government’s stand before the Misra Commission that
he was unaware of the massacre in Tilokpuri till November 2.
delay at every stage in uncovering the truth ensured that the first detailed
report of the police conduct came out only six years after the carnage.
The Mittal report indicted 72 police officials, including six IPS officers.
But the report only led to further legal and administrative controversies.
Departmental proceedings were initiated against several of the indicted
officials but at the end of the day hardly any of them has actually been
punished. Over the years, many of the indicted officials have been promoted
and some even retired honourably. In other words, the resounding indictment
of the police, first by the Misra Commission and then by the Mittal report,
has come to nothing.