The Nanavati Commission has determined in its investigation of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984:

(That) the violence that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was “organised and systematic” in several areas, the entire Congress apparatus could not be held responsible for the acts of individual politicians, hooligans, depraved people and local gangs.

Sounds a little bit like the “a few bad apples” theory. There have been ten commissions of inquiry to date, makes depressing reading as chronicled by Dilip D’Souza, when people like Sajjan Kumar have been let off the hook:

A CBI team went to Kumar’s home to file the charges; his supporters locked them up and threatened them harm if they persisted in their designs on their leader.

In retrospect, 1984 feels like a dress rehearsal for Gujerat. When powerful people subvert the law, it does not go unnoticed, and those who would follow them refine the tactics they have learnt, knowing they can do so with impunity.

The Nanavati Commission however does recommend that the most egregious culprits, HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Dharam Das Shastri be re-investigated. But when you read accounts of people like Advocate Harvinder Singh Phulka, it becomes clear that while people haven’t given up, the tactic of bureaucratic delay makes the prospect of justice seem rather dim. For more information on this and other Human Rights issues look at Jas Karan’s blog at the Harvard Law School.