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Riot reminder to Cong, from US

New Delhi, Dec. 18: An “untraceable” witness has popped up to remind the Congress of the anti-Sikh riots.

A Delhi court today asked the CBI to “further investigate” a riot case against sitting MP and former Union minister Jagdish Tytler, rejecting the agency’s contention that a key witness could not be traced and the file should be closed.

“I am of the opinion that the matter needs to be further investigated. The CBI is directed to further investigate the case and submit its report by January 16,” Kakardooma court additional chief metropolitan magistrate Sanjiv Jain said.

On September 29, the CBI had said in a report that it could not locate the witness, Jasbir Singh, and no other evidence was available against Tytler.

The case involves the death of three people in 1984 in a west Delhi gurdwara set ablaze by rioters protesting the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Tytler is accused of instigating the mob. The CBI had chargesheeted him in November 2005 after his name figured in the report of the Nanavati commission probing the riots.

Jasbir had told the commission that he had heard Tytler inciting a mob to kill the Sikhs in his locality, a charge the politician denies. Jasbir later migrated to the US.

After the CBI told the court that Jasbir could not be traced, two Sikh organisations — the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and the November ’84 Carnage Justice Committee — tracked him down.

Jasbir’s lawyer Navkiran Singh told the court today that his client was willing to testify.

The agency could record Jasbir’s statement through video-conferencing or send officials to the US, advocate H.S. Phoolka, representing the two committees, said.

Trial courts have powers to order further investigation, reinvestigation and even independent investigation. But with the courts getting overburdened, magistrates often do not exercise these powers.

Tytler blamed the BJP and other political adversaries for the setback. “Who else will benefit from this?”

But he added: “I am actually happy that Singh is being called… he will be exposed…. All that he says is a bundle of lies and nothing but lies.”

The CBI said the witness was not responding to the agency’s calls to him in California. “It sounds a bit ironic that while he refuses to entertain our telephone call, you can find him speaking to every second television channel,” CBI director Vijay Shanker said.

The Congress, facing Delhi Assembly elections next year, sought to downplay the court order. The party said Tytler was “always innocent”.

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