After nearly 26 years of relentless battle for justice to victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, advocate H.S. Phoolka Tuesday withdrew from all cases following allegations that he had been making personal gains.
Phoolka’s decision follows allegation by the president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Paramjit Singh Sarna that the advocate had ‘wasted’ the money in the course of the campaign.
‘I felt humiliated and abused. It was an attack on my integrity and record of selfless service,’ Phoolka, 54, told IANS.
The decision to pull out of the riots cases comes only two days after he appeared in the Delhi High Court which upheld the murder charge against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.
Sarna had made the allegations against Phoolka at a meeting July 17 in which several prominent Sikhs were present.
Phoolka said he would represent the families of the victims in court ‘today only’.
Sarna said that when Phoolka appeared before the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission — set up to investigate the riots — on behalf of the victims during 2000-04, the DSGMC had spent Rs.1.09 crore on the administrative expenses incurred by his team.
Phoolka said it was only after the Nanavati probe that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had apologized for the carnage, the compensation for the families of dead victims was enhanced to Rs.10 lakh, Congress leader Jagdish Tytler resigned from the union cabinet and the cases that Sajjan Kumar is currently facing were reopened.
‘I have never charged a penny as fee,’ he said, while pointing to the legal assistance offered to families of the riot victims.
‘Whatever the DSGMC has spent was unavoidable and not for my personal gains,’ he said.
Phoolka has written to the Akal Takht, the highest decision-making body of Sikhs in Amritsar, to make alternative arrangements for representing victims before courts.
The advocate has himself been a victim of the mayhem when bloodthirsty mobs ruled Delhi’s streets for three days following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984.
A budding lawyer then, Phoolka and his four-month pregnant wife Maninder were chased by mobs before an army convoy took them to a safe place.