NEW DELHI: “The judiciary is finished, it is over” announced retired Justice Markanday Katju as he questioned the failure to convict those responsible for the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi.

“India’s judiciary has collapsed, it has become an empty shell”, he said with some anger at a meeting Insaf 84 organised by Amnesty International India on the massacre that still draws deep anger and tears from the victims and relatives who have waited 31 years, in vain, for justice.

He was contradicted by Justice Anil Dev Singh who said that if there was any one institution doing its job, it was the judiciary. And that the police and not the judiciary was to blame for the delay in bringing justice to the victims.

However, the gathering was more in tune with Justice Katju as many had witnessed the massacre first hand, many were direct victims, others had fought the cases for over three decades and found truth in both the view that the police investigation was faulty, to the judiciary’s own delays woven into the long trial of one of the biggest massacres in the country since independence.

All who spoke had a memory--Kuldip Nayar, Justice Rajinder Sachar, advocate H.S.Phoolka who has been virtual Lone Ranger on the 1984 legal block. There was Darshan Kaur for whom 31 years meant little. She had lost 12 family members in the violence, and as she said, “for me it is like it happened today.” Breaking into tears she spoke of how the violence had taken over Delhi, and reached Trilokpuri where she lived on May 31; of how she hid her husband inside her little house, and sat at the door with one of her three children in her lap; of how when the mob came she thought that telling them her husband was at home would be sufficient; and of how they barged into the house, dragged him out, beat him with stones while she tried to stop them, and then killed him in front of her eyes. They killed his elder brother in front of her as well, with a sword.

For Darshan Kaur time has not moved since then. She is waiting for justice. She does not want the money, she wants those responsible for the violence to be convicted, or as she said, “hung” for what they did. She said that an apology from the Congress or anyone was no longer enough. That it would not make her anger go away. Only true justice could do that, and she was willing to wait for it.

Phoolka, the Lone Ranger, has been consistent in fighting the cases, going to the courts, seeking justice. White haired now, he is still optimistic. And points to 1984, 1993, 2002 to say that the trend of communal violence had changed to become mob violence, with the mobs protected by the powerful. “If you don’t check this trend, no one will be safe” he says emphasising the need to tackle this violence with the strict implementation of the law in each and every case. He says that there is volumes of evidence against Jagdish Tytler, against Kamal Nath and both would have been in jail long ago had they been common persons, and not leaders of a political party (in this case the Congress).

Trilochan Singh who was press advisor to then President Zail Singh recalls how the latter was humiliated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences when he tried to go there after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot. And how he was not allowed to attend the official condolence meeting for her later.

There was a small political session too, with Aam Aadmi party and CPI(M) being represented. The Congress and BJP were invited but chose to stay away.

It was a poignant meeting, a first really where others from all walks of life came to share the memory of 1984; and hold the hands of the survivors in their search for justice. And made deeper by the understanding that the violence of 1984 had moved on, under other political masters perhaps, to claim more victims, and protect more perpetrators.