Sudip Mazumdar, Journalist
The police commissioner, SC Tandon, was briefing the press
(about 10 Indian reporters and five foreign journalists) in his office on
November 6, at 5 p.m. A reporter asked him to comment on the large number
of complaints about local Congress MPs and lightweights trying to pressure
the police to get their men released. The police commissioner totally
denied the allegation and when questioned further, he categorically stated
that he had never received any calls or visits by any Congress or for that
matter any political leader trying to influence him or his force. Just as
he finished uttering these words, Jagdish Tytler, Congress MP from Sadar
constituency, barged into the police commissioner’s office along with
three other followers and at the top of his voice demanded of the police
commissioner: "What is this Mr Tandon? You still have not done what I
asked you to do?"
The reporters were amused, the police commissioner
embarrassed. Tytler kept on shouting and a reporter asked the police
commissioner to ask that ‘shouting man’ to wait outside since a press
conference was on. Tytler shouted at the reporter: "This is more
important!" However, the reporter told the police commissioner that if
Tytler wanted to sit in the office, he would be welcome but a lot of
questions regarding his involvement would also be asked and he was welcome
to hear them. Tytler was fuming. Perhaps realising the faux pas, he sat
down and said, "By holding my men you are hampering relief work." Then he
boasted to some foreign reporters that "There is not a single refugee in
any camp in my constituency. I have made sure that they are given
protection and sent back home." However, the incident left the police
commissioner speechless and the reporters convinced about the
Congress(I)’s interference in police work.
Written complaint by journalist Rahul Bedi of The
Indian Express against three senior Delhi police officers, dated
November 5, 1984 and addressed to the police commissioner of Delhi (with a
copy also being sent to the lieutenant governor)
Following our meeting in your room at the police
headquarters on Sunday, November 4, I wish to register a complaint of
criminal negligence against Mr HC Jatav, IPS, additional commissioner of
police, Delhi, Mr Nikhil Kumar, IPS, additional commissioner of police,
Delhi, and Mr Seva Das, IPS, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), East
District, for being responsible through their apathy and severe
dereliction of duty for the massacre in Trilokpuri where over 350 persons
were slaughtered in a carnage lasting over 30 hours, ending on the evening
of November 2. You agreed to look into the matter.
The official figure of the number of dead is 95 in
Trilokpuri. The following are the details of the negligence:
1. On learning of the massacre on [the morning of]
November 2, I along with Mr Joseph Maliakan, reporters, Indian Express
newspaper, rushed to Trilokpuri at 2 p.m. Around 500 metres away from
Block 32 we met a police rider and a constable coming from the block where
the killings were still taking place.
Stopping the rider and asking him what was going on inside
the block, he told us that the situation was quiet. Only two people had
been killed, he said.
2. On going further, our car was blocked by an angry mob
which stoned us and told us to leave or face the consequences. Block 32,
they said, was out of bounds.
3. We went to the local Kalyanpuri police station, looking
after Trilokpuri, and asked the subinspector on duty for help in getting
into the beleaguered block around 3.30 p.m. The police officer said that
all was quiet in Trilokpuri as his rider had reported the same to him.
Besides, he said, he was short of men.
4. After seeking army patrols in vain, we arrived at the
police headquarters at 5 p.m. Mr Nikhil Kumar, manning the telephones in
your room, was told of the situation. He called the central control room,
two floors above. Mr Nikhil Kumar did nothing to ensure that a force had
been sent other than make the telephone call to the control room. He asked
the control room to inform the captain on duty inside the control room.
5. On reaching Trilokpuri at 6.05 p.m., we found the
Kalyanpuri station house officer (SHO), Mr SV Singh, accompanied by two
constables, arriving in a Matador van. Mr SV Singh said that he had
radioed his senior officers, specially his DCP, Seva Das. The DCP was
nowhere in sight till after 7 p.m.
6. On returning to the police headquarters, we were told
by Mr Nikhil Kumar that he had done his job by informing the control room.
Meanwhile, Mr Jatav, returning from a tour of the Trans-Jamuna
areas, including Kalyanpuri police station area (which includes Trilokpuri),
arrived in your room and declared that ‘calm’ prevailed in his area. His
DCP, Seva Das, he said, confirmed this.
7. When we stressed the urgency of the situation, Mr Jatav
inquired of Mr Nikhil Kumar as to why he had not been told of the
emergency, as he was in his office, a floor above, at 5 p.m. when the
latter had merely called the control room. Mr Nikhil Kumar had no answer
other than parroting the fact that he had called the control room.
8. Mr Jatav arrived at the spot around 7.45 p.m., over 30
hours after the killing began on November 1, around 10 a.m.
I hope suitable action is taken against these police
officers who through dereliction of duty became accessories to the
(Excerpted from ‘Who are the Guilty?’, Report of a joint
inquiry into the causes and impact of the riots in Delhi from 31 October
to 10 November 1984, PUCL-PUDR, Delhi, November 1984.)