Even as the Indian press and the public are preoccupied with the daily developments in the assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal to be followed by three other states in the course of 2016, we are also moving at a different time scale measured in decades, not days. A very old sore quietly rankling for years has come to a head and is suddenly in news. Way back in 1991, policemen in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh staged an encountered and killed above 11 Sikhs in cold blood. The provocation on the part of the Sikhs was absolute zero. The CBI prosecutor claims that the killings were carried out solely for the sake of promotion. Justice has finally come to the families of the dead after a slow crawl of twenty five years – a special CBI court sentenced an exceptionally large group of 47 men to life sentence. A sum of 14 lakhs will be given to each family and the money will be collected from the convicts.
25 years is a long time by the measure of human longevity. Realistically speaking, only an exceptional human being can retain the hope for justice and the will to fight for it, even if one does not take into account the resources and time required to hang on to the case. As it turns out of the 57 guilty policemen, ten are already dead and only 47 will go through the punishment. It is however not enough to express outrage over delayed justice, a chronic feature of the Indian judicial system. As mentioned by this report, the special court made it a point to underline that the CBI failed to nail any of the higher officials whose involvement is near certain in a case like this. After all, in a well-organized move, the Sikhs in question were split into three different groups and taken to three different sites for the synchronized lynching. So the fact remains that the real culprits in positions of power to plan a devilish plot like this and to implement it have in all likelihood got away, another routine norm in our legal system apart from delayed justice.