BEFORE JUSTICE NANAVATI COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

( Witness No : 12 )

 

Name : Shri Rahul Kuldip Bedi, S/o Late Dr.Kuldip Chand Bedi
Age : 49 Years
Occupation : Journalist
Address : A-14, Niti Bagh, New Delhi

On SA

I have filed an affidavit before Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission a copy of which has been shown to me. I say that it is the copy of the same affidavit (the affidavit is taken on record and marked as exhibit No. W12/1). My affidavit may be treated as my examination-in-chief. I further say that, I am now working as Correspondent in India for the English daily Telegraph published from London. In 1984 I was working with Indian Express. On 31st October, 1984 I went to the AIIMS Hospital after hearing the news that Ms. Indira Gandhi has been shot and she was taken there. I remained there till evening. While I was returning from the Hospital I had seen many Sikhs been beaten near INA Market. I had also seen sikh taxi drivers being beaten up near Safdarjung flyover. I did not notice any police in those two area when such an incidents were going on. On 1st November, 1984 I had visited various areas including Chandi Chowk, Darya Gunj and the New Delhi Area. In Niti Bagh where I am staying I had noticed that three houses were attacked by the mob. My own house belonging to sikh was also attacked and the window panes were broken. A taxi stand near our house - about 500 mts. away was smashed and later on set on fire. On 1st November, 1984 sometime in the afternoon when the mobs attacking the houses in Niti Bagh a police jeep had passed by but it had made no attempt to prevent the mob from attacking their houses. On 1.11.1984 I have traveled about 30 to 40 Kms to gather the news to assess the situation and at that time I had noticed almost complete absence of the police on the roads. On the morning of 1.11.1984 I had been to Chandni Chowk and there I had seen people in the mobs looting articles from the shops which were already broken.

While I had visited Trilokpuri area I had noticed water pipes placed across the roads blocking all entries and exits from that area. Trilokpuri area is about 3 to 4 Sq.Kms big. Our car was allowed to enter that area after we had disclosed our identity that we are all press reporters. On the way to Block No.32 we had come across various mobs on the roads and we were allowed to pass further only after we had disclosed our identity to the mobs. Near Block No. 32 I had seen two policemen as mentioned in para 5 and 6 of my affidavit. Referring to para 15 of my affidavit I say that Mr.Nikhil Kumar who was then Addl. Commissioner of Police was present in the room of Commissioner of Police. The impression which I had got after going to all these areas on 1.11.84 and 2.11.1984 was that there was total absence of any law and order machinery. Even though Curfew was imposed I did not see any signs of curfew being observed or enforced in those areas. I found persons in the mobs carrying sticks and iron bars. I had seen the signs of big massacre at Trilokpuri and I noticed unusual silence even though big crowds were there in the area. The street of Block No. 32 is of length 150 Yards and the whole of it was littered with limbs of human bodies, hairs and charred bodies. It was not even possible to walk without stepping upon those limbs of dead bodies. At night when I visited the area there was no electricity in the entire area. The only light which was available was of police vehicle. I was taken through the street by a sikh women and I was taken to various places where I noticed that injured persons were still lying there or hiding there since about 24 hours. Some of them were hiding behind dead bodies. In one of the hutments in the block I had seen one injured boy whose stomach was cut open by a knife injury and had been hiding there with that injury behind the dead body. He wanted water and even we were not able to provide water to him. We reporters took him to police vehicle. Subsequently I came to know that the said boy died in the hospital. In one of the hutment I found a girl aged about 20 sitting at the doorstep. She was handicapped girl as she was suffering from Polio. All the family members were massacred in that hutments itself. She had become numb and we had rescued that girl also. We had thus rescued about half a dozen people from that area. After spending about 2 to 3 hours in that area we had returned to Police Headquarters and then I had gone to my office. At Block No.32 we had met one SHO of that area. He had two or three policemen with him. We did not find that SHO and two policemen helping the people or making any arrangement for the victims. We found them merely standing there. They were surrounded by mobs.

On 3rd November, 1984 morning after visiting Trilokpuri area --- I had met the then Lt. Governor Mr.Gavai at the police headquarters. On the previous day he had issued a statement that about 15 to 20 sikhs were killed during the riots. When I told him that big massacre had occurred in Trilokpuri area and about 300 sikhs were killed there, he had pleaded ignorance. By that time the DCP and the Addl. DCP of that area had also visited Trilokpuri. It was also published in the Indian Express that on that day, large number of skihs were killed in that area. Thus the police and the others were in know that large scale killing has taken place in Trilokpuri area. Therefore, when the Lt.Governor pleaded his ignorance I lost my temper and abused him. A few months thereafter I filed a writ petition in the High Court against four police officers for criminal negligence and murder. The writ petition was filed mainly because of no action against the erring officers. My petition was dismissed at that time because Shri Ved Marwah was appointed for the purpose of holding an inquiry by the police department. As no action was taken by the police even though they were informed about the various incidents I had carried an impression that they were not taking any action deliberately against the mobs. I did not appear before any commission as I was out of the country for a long time. However, I did appear before three inquiry committees which were appointed for conducting departmental proceedings. One was headed by Shri S.P.Rai, IAS officer, another was headed by Mr.Umesh Sehgal, IAS Officer. The third was headed by some Income Tax Officer. One inquiry was against the SHO of Kalyan Puri Police Station, another was against the DCP concerned and the third one was against Addl. Commissioner Shri H.C.Jatav.

Cross examination by Shri S.S.Gandhi, Sr. Advocate, on behalf of Delhi Police.

The affidavit which I had filed before Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission was of 30th August, 85. My intention was to file a detailed affidavit about what I have seen before Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission. When I filed an affidavit my intention was to bring before Mr. Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission, whatever I have seen from 31st till 3rd November, 1984, it is true that I have not mentioned in my affidavit anything what I had seen on 31st October and 1st November, 1984. I do not remember if I had written a letter to the commission informing the Commission that I was to leave for UK on 4th October, 1985 and therefore if the Commission wanted to examine me they can examine me earlier then I would not be available for one year thereafter. On 2nd November, 1984 Shri Joseph Malayakan was with me for almost the wholetime. Mr.Malayakan has stayed back at Trilokpuri when I had returned to the Police Headquarter and then went to the office. I had a talk with Mr. Malayakan after we all had returned to the office. I do not remember if Mr. Malayakan had told me that Mr.Jatav had called for reinforcement and arranged for evacuation of the survivors. I do not remember if Mr Malayakan had told me that Mr.Jatav had ordered the arrest of SHO Surbir Singh and two other police officers including the motorcycle rider. Whom we had met in the afternoon. I had not witnessed any act of incident of arson, looting and killing in Trilokpuri area. With reference to para 9 of my affidavit I must have asked the name of the sikh whom I had met outside the Kalyanpuri Police Station. I do not remember now whether I had done so or not. I do not remember the name of the Sub-Inspector of Police who was on duty as Duty officer at Kalyanpuri Police Station. I was told my Mr.Nikhil Kumar that he was on transfer out of Delhi and that he was called to attend the telephone calls and that his position is almost that of a guest artist. I had met Mr.Jatav as referred to in para 21 of the affidavit after I had returned from Trilokpuri. On 3rd November, 1984 Mr.Seva Das the then DCP (East District) had visited Trilokpuri and I was given the impression that he was visiting it for the first time. On 31st October, 1984 while returning from AIIMS hospital to my office I had not seen any police except at AIIMS Hospital. Today I cannot give any details about the shops or the houses which were vandalized or burnt or looted on 1st November, 1984. I had not given any details regarding the acts of looting, arson and burning of property before any authority because I was not asked by any of those authorities to do so.

I had not seen the presence of army during my visits either in Trilokpuri or Kalyanpuri area on 2nd November, 1984 and 3rd November, 1984.

Cross examination by Shri K.K.Sud, ASG on behalf of Central Government :

Till 30th August of 1985 when I had sworn the affidavit I had not complained to any authority regarding non-deployment of army or its non-availability. ( The witness further says that there was no forum for any such complaints ). Since 6 years before 1985 I had been in the profession of Journalism. For all those 6 years I was with Indian Express. During that period Indian Express was considered a fearless news paper and it was also known for its investigating journalism. In none of my columns of our newspaper had I written about the non-availability and laxity of the army and the airforce. The witness states that the army was officially deployed on 1st November, 1984 in aid of civil authorities. ( But for their further deployment and action they were dependent on civil authorities but the civil authorities were not there for guiding them). I did write subsequently mentioning in my news reports about the non-availability of civil authorities to guide the army during those days. If called upon to do so I can make available the records in this behalf. I had written a letter to the Home Minister about the inaction of the police and the army personnel. I do not remember if the Central Govt. had issued any press release that all the police officers who were responsible for dereliction of their duty shall be probed. The then Lt. Governor was changed by the Central Govt. on 2nd or 3rd November, 1984.

Question

Did you ever offered to examine as witness before the police

Answer

I was not called upon by the police to give evidence in any case.

I do not remember if I had written a letter to the police or any authority that I was an important witness to what had happened in Delhi during those days. The people present at Trilokpuri had informed us that no army or police patrol had visited the resettlement colony but I cannot give the name of any particular person. On my return to Trilokpuri I had not met Col. P.P.S. Bains. The army patrol commanded by Col.Bains was only passing through that area and was not moving in that area for patrol purpose. I did not inquired about the name of Sq. Leader. I do not remember the name of the Sq.Leader mentioned in para 12 of the affidavit. I did not remember whether he was wearing the name plate at that time. I do not remember how many persons were there in the army truck which was parked near the ITO bridge colony. I had visited three streets of block 32 of Trilokpuri. I do not remember that if those streets have any numbers.

Question by Commission :

On 2nd November, 1984 I had gone to Trilokpuri three times. My first visit was around 3.00 PM, Second at 4.00 PM and third was at 7.00 PM.

Read over and found correct

(RAHUL KULDIP BEDI)                                                                              ( G.T. NANAVATI )

23rd May, 2001                                                                                                     23rd May, 2001