should be hanged, even if he is sick’
Rs 25 lakh bring back the 12 family members whom she lost to the 1984
carnage? Can it bring back even one? Then what good is it, says Darshan
Kaur to Ajmer Singh and Etmad A. Khan
Many witnesses turned
hostile one after the other, but Darshan Kaur who lost 12 members of her
family, including her husband, refused to fall for the lure of money or
surrender to the fear of death. In a chilling confession, she tells Tehelka
that she had been offered Rs 25 lakh to withdraw her testimony against
Congress leader HKL Bhagat. She was offered the money by local Sikh leader,
Atma Singh Lubhana, a man who had actually been authorised by the Shaheedgunj
Gurdwara Committee to help the Tilak Vihar widows with their court cases.
Tilak Vihar in West Delhi is one of the largest colonies that houses the
victims of Carnage 1984.
Guard: She still gets threats because she didn’t
Photo Sharad Saxena
had offered me Rs 25 lakh to change my testimony. He asked me
to accept the money and withdraw the case against Bhagat. He said,
with this money your generations will live comfortably so why
take such trouble
Darshan moved from East Delhi’s Trilokpuri to Raghubir Nagar, Tilak
Vihar where she lives under round-the-clock police protection.
Excerpts from the conversation:
During the trials many witnesses were threatened and some turned
hostile after accepting money. Could you tell us about your case? We are
told that Atma Singh Lubhana offered you money to change your testimony?
At that time we used to live in Trilokpuri and HKL Bhagat was the local
mp. I was a witness against him. We had no educated people guiding us
about court appearances and no menfolk were spared during the riots. Lubhana
appeared on the scene after the riots. None of his family members were
killed during the riots. This man used to cycle around then and he now
moves in cars whereas we don’t even have a bicycle. Since there
were no educated people among us, it was decided in the Shaheedgunj Gurdwara
to hand over all these representations to him. Lubhana would accompany
all the widows to the Karkardooma courts. When HKL Bhagat came to know
of this, he decided to strike a deal with him. Lubhana was instructed
to offer money to widows to change their statements. Some of them did
but I don’t want to name any of them.
Please give us the details, be frank.
Some widows accepted the money and turned hostile. I neither accepted
money nor changed my statement. I lost 12 of my family members and asked
them to bring back at least one. I rejected Lubhana’s offer and
then started the process of threats. He
attacked me also. Bhagat also engineered attacks against me.
Was the attack at the instance of Bhagat?
Once on my way back, when I had no security, five-six people in a Maruti
car waylaid me. They first made enquiries about some address and then
tried pulling me inside the car. I started crying and tried to save myself
by slapping them and hitting them with my chappals. A traffic constable
and some other people came to my rescue and they fled away. After some
time, police protection was given to me. This protection is with me for
the last 12 years.
Did Atma Singh
Lubhana offer you money?
Kaur’s husband and some other relations killed in the
anti-Sikh violence of 1984
1 Ram Singh (husband)
2 Gian Singh (brother-in-law)
3 Birju Singh (sister-in-law’s husband)
4 Hukam Singh (brother-in-law)
5 Bhura Singh (sister-in-law’s husband)
Lubhana had offered me Rs 25 lakh to change my testimony.
He asked me to accept the money and withdraw the case against Bhagat.
He said, with this money your generations will live comfortably so why
take such trouble. On my refusal, he started abusing me and physically
did Atma Singh Lubhana beat you up?
He wanted me to accept the money and withdraw from the case. He did not
want me to appear as a witness against HKL Bhagat.
That means he asked you to accept Rs 25 lakh and not appear against
Yes, he asked me not to appear as a witness against HKL Bhagat. He said,
take Rs 25 lakh and your children and grandchildren will live comfortably.
And if you don’t then you will keep running around. He said, either
he (Bhagat) or I will kill you. These threats continued and I challenged
him to touch me. I am not afraid. I will not retract from my testimony.
I told Lubhana to bring back at least one member of my family. Twelve
of my family members were killed. Provoked by this, he attacked me.
Is Lubhana still threatening you?
Yes, even now, he is after my life, he threatened me over the phone. He
said he would burn me alive.
I told him that I am not afraid of any threats. I challenged him to touch
me. He put the phone down and then some women called up and issued threats.
Who were these
was instructed to offer money to widows to change their statements.
On my refusal, he physically
attacked me. After some time round-the-clock police protection
was given to me
I don’t know the names of those women who threatened me but I informed
the police authorities.
are told that he gave money to other witnesses also?
He had sold off Anwar Kaur who had initially testified against Sajjan
Kumar. When Sajjan Kumar won the election he had gone to congratulate
him. Many other Sikhs had accompanied him.
How do you know that Anwar had taken money through Lubhana?
We had invited Anwar Kaur to join our group of widows and then she narrated
it to us. After Sajjan Kumar was acquitted, we took out protest processions
and then went to the gurdwara where we called Anwar. We asked her why
she had turned hostile when we could have got justice for so many of our
brothers who had been murdered. We asked her who had incited her and then
she told us that it was Atma Singh Lubhana who did all this.
What did she tell you?
She stated that Lubhana had taken her to Sajjan Kumar’s residence.
She did not tell us about the money she got but she said Lubhana had struck
the deal. She said she got scared and changed her statement.
Can you tell
us when exactly she confessed to you and the others?
(Lubhana) said, either he (Bhagat) or I will kill you. These threats
continued and I challenged him to touch me. I am not afraid
This was four-five years ago, when Sajjan Kumar was acquitted. It is then
that all the widows confronted Anwar Kaur. She sought forgiveness . In
the case of another widow, Satnami Bai, Lubhana signed in a register when
a panchayat was organised and admitted that he was instrumental in Satnami
turning hostile. He was asked to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh for working against
the Sikh Panth, which he did.
Justice Nanavati has let off Bhagat on humanitarian grounds as
he is bedridden. What do you have to say on this?
HKL Bhagat should be hanged, even if he is sick. He deserves no mercy
as he is a murderer. I had seen him leading the mobs saying, ‘kill
all the Sardars, they are snakes’.
08 , 2005