BEFORE JUSTICE NANAVATI COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
( Witness No : 1 )
Name : Shri Patwant Singh, S/o Late S
Examination in Chief
I have filed an affidavit dated 28.09.2000. That may be treated as my examination in chief. I further say that the affidavit is W1/1 (No.2164).
I am a Writer. I have written several books and edited various magazines. I occasionally write articles for Indian newspapers and magazines and for “The New York Times”, etc, and have also written 7 books. I have lived since my birth in Delhi. I have known Mr.I.K.Gujral for over 50 years, Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh since 30 years, and Lt. Gen. J.S.Aurora for the last 50 years. The Sikh community in India accords me respect and Sikhs residing abroad also consult me occasionally in matters of interest to the Sikhs. I have written extensively on Sikh temporal and religious matters. My family was involved in the building of New Delhi. I have been much involved in humanitarian issues and matters of social and political concern.
I knew Ms.Indira Gandhi and some other members of the family. Ms.Gandhi visited my house when she was Prime Minister. On certain occasions I discussed with her several matters of public importance. I also knew Giani Zail Singh, the President of India.
I am the author of a book entitled, “Of Dreams and Demons – An Indian Memoir”. The reason I am mentioning this book is that in it I compared the situation in Delhi after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, with the assassination of Ms. Indira Gandhi, 36 years later. Before the news with regard to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was broadcast on AIR, steps were taken to maintain strict law and order with a view to avoiding bloodshed in the streets of the capital in the wake of his assassination, in case it turned out to be a killing by a person of different religious persuasion. The Police and the Army were duly alerted. The broadcast of the news was stalled for some time deliberately so as to make the necessary security arrangements. Unfortunately, no such precautions were taken by any of the authorities before broadcasting news of the assassination of Ms. Indira Gandhi, to the best of my knowledge. Rather, on the television, I noticed that almost every 15 minutes crowds were shown shouting the slogan “ KHOON KA BADLA KHOON” obviously with the aim of instigating communal violence. I may at this stage mention that what I have stated with regard to the stalling of the news of Mahatma Gandhi’s that what I have stated with regard to the stalling of the news of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination was done at the instance of the then Governor General of India, Lord Louis Mountabatten. According to me the action taken by him showed more concern for human lives than was shown by the Indian leadership in 1984, because the steps he took to ensure the maintenance of peace and order were steps any law-abiding leadership is expected to take under such circumstances.
My request to Lt. Gen. J.S. Aurora (Retd.), Sardar Gurbachan Singh, Ex-Ambassador, Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh, and Brig, Sukhbir Singh too meet me on October, 31, 1984 was made because I apprehended that this event could trigger some sort of blacklash against the members of my community, I was apprehensive because of the events which had preceded the assassination of Ms.Indira Gandhi including Operation Blue Star.
In Paragraph 3 of my affidavit I have mentioned that the gentle men referred to in the paragraph returned to my house within 15 minutes. This was because they apprehended danger on account of the acts of violence that had already started taking place on the streets against the Sikhs. They had also been warned by some well-meaning non-Sikhs and advised not to proceed further on account of acts of violence against the Sikhs. Yet another reason which prompted them to return back was to discuss our further course of action in view of this violence. So we rang up Rashtrapati Bhavan and arranged to meet the President at 12.15 the next day, i.e. on November 1, 1984.
We met the President as he was the Country’s constitutional had and had long experience in matters of governance. We expected him to take prompt action to prevent further carnage and violence. It was wit that hope that we not only me him but also suggested that he speak to the new Prime Minister.
On return from the meeting with the President of India, there was a telephone message from Mr.Inder Kumar Gujral and on his suggestion General Aurora, he and I went to meet the Home Minister, Mr.P.V.Narasimha Rao at 3 P.M. on the same day, i.e. November 1. The meeting with the Home Minister lasted for more than an hour. When we arrived at the Home Minister’s House there was only his Principal Private Secretary present in the living room. Thereafter the Home Minister came out of his bedroom. There were no activity in the house. There was nothing in the house suggestive of any meetings taking place with officials etc. We did not notice any hustle or bustle or a sense of crisis which could suggest that he was concerned with what was happening in Delhi, or, to indicate that he had initiated action to curb violence in the country’s capital. During our discussion with him we found him totally unresponsive to the crisis.
We suggested various steps which could be taken for avoiding large-scale violence. We also suggested that the army should be called in to control the situation immediately.
His reply was that he was well informed about the happenings in Delhi and the army would be deployed by that evening. In fact the army was not called till the evening of November 3. While we were talking to him he did not receive any telephone call, nor made any calls. No officer came to see him during this period either.
Crossed examination deferred till Friday, 20 April, 2001.
Read over and found correct.
(Shri Patwant Singh )
Cross Examination by Shri K.K.Sud, Addl. Soliciter General
I had not filed any affidavit earlier before any commission or authority. I did not make any representation or any written complaint to any authority including the President and the Prime Minister as I had lost faith in them. I am aware of the appointment of Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission and the Committees appointed by the Commission. I know that Mr.Gujaral, Mr.Aurora, Air Marsahal Aurjan Singh and Ambassodor Gurbachan Singh were all pursuing the demand for bringing persons to the book for the massacre for the members of the sikh community. I had again had a meeting with the President of India and had suggested to him to take appropriate action against the guilty persons but no steps were taken and therefore I was disenchanted and therefore did not pursue my efforts further. I wrote several articles expressing my anguish about the inaction of the authorities in taking action. I can produce the articles written by me in that behalf.
I have also mentioned about the inaction in the Government and the authorities in some of the books which I have written. We had given the number of my car and theefore we had entered the estate of the President straighway. We were not frisked. I do not know whether any record will be maintained in the President Office as regards our visit. What I had stated in my affidavit regarding breaking out of the violence is based upon what I was told by the gentleman referred to Para 3 of my affidavit who had come to my house after leaving returned within 15 min. because of the violence.
I will produce the copies of the articles and the book within about a weeks time.
Cross Examination by Shri S.S. Gandhi, Sr. Advocate
The gentleman had seen two taxis being burnt on Lodhi Road and there two sikh drivers also told them that the mobs were moving around and they had damaged that taxis. They were also informed at about that time by persons traveling in a car that the Sikhs are being targeted and therefore should not proceed further. The persons who had so informed were non-sikhs.
When those gentleman returned to my house they informed me about the mobs being damaging the property of the Sikhs but not about any killing of any Sikh gentleman. I cannot say if any offence was registered as FIR No.242 dated 31.10.84 by the Tughlak Road Police Station with regard to the burning of the vehicles which was witnesses by the gentleman.
When I was going to the President Hosue on 1.11.84 a mob had tried to stop my car near PM’s Office but we were able to get through as we did not stop the car. I had seen Delhi Police men deployed on the road. On November 2, 1984 the property belonging to me and my sister situated on Gurgaon-Sona Road were burnt to the ground and an offence was registered.
Mr. Patwant Singh, has forwarded alongwith his letter dated 26th April, 2001 four cuttings from newspapers and three books as promised by him while giving his evidence.
Read and found correct.
(Shri Patwant Singh ) (G.T.NANAVATI )
20TH April, 2001 20th April, 2001