The Patiala House Court in Delhi on Tuesday sentenced to death one of two men found guilty of killing two Sikh men during the 1984 riots in Delhi, News 18 reported. This is the first death sentence given in a case related to the riots.

Yashpal Singh and Naresh Sherawat were held guilty last week for killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Delhi’s Mahipalpur locality on November 1, 1984. The court sentenced Yashpal Singh to death and Sherawat to life imprisonment.

The murder case was lodged based on a complaint filed by Santokh Singh, brother of Hardev Singh. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 citing lack of evidence but a Special Investigation Team reopened the case. The SIT in its report said that it was a “brutal murder of two innocent young persons aged around 25 each”. “It was a planned murder since the accused were carrying kerosene oil, sticks etc,” the report added.

The two accused were held guilty under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder, attempt to murder and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

Congress welcomes verdict

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh welcomed the verdict and said justice had finally been served for the “heinous crimes”. “Hope the others involved in the attacks are also soon brought to book for their horrendous and inhuman acts,” said the Congress leader.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “The Congress Party’s stand is clear. This is a legal process, a legal process which must be allowed to work out its course and we are very proud, happy and fortunate that it is working out its course.”

He said there should be no external influences in the process. “The purity of the process should not be compromised and the rights of the accused are counter valid with the process,” he said. “I think the whole country and everybody should welcome and the Congress Party certainly welcomes it.”

Some senior Congress leaders have been accused of instigating the riots after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.