1984 anti-Sikh riots: Sajjan Kumar convicted! HC reverses acquittal, hands life term to Congress leader

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Updated: December 17, 2018 1:38:15 PM

While pronouncing the judgement, Delhi High Court said: "In the summer of 1947, during partition, several people were massacred. 37 years later Delhi was the witness of a similar tragedy. The accused enjoyed political patronage and escaped trial."

1984 anti Sikh riots, anti Sikh riots, Sajjan Kumar, Sajjan Kumar, Sikh riots case, 1984 case, 1984 anti Sikh case
In 2013, the trial court had cleared Sajjan Kumar of all charges but convicted five others including former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, and Girdhari Lal. (IE)

1984 anti-Sikh riots: In a major embarrassment for the Congress party, the Delhi High Court today found party leader Sajjan Kumar guilty in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. The court ruling came on petitions challenging a trial court’s order acquitting Sajjan Kumar.

Delhi High Court has asked Sajjan Kumar not to leave city and surrender by December 31, 2018. The court said that Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s life imprisonment will be for the remainder of his life. Kumar has been convicted of criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, acts against communal harmony.

Besides Sajjan Kumar, the court has also sentenced Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar to life imprisonment. Kishan Khokkar and former legislator Mahender Yadav have been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Sajjan Kumar along with five others was accused of inciting riotous mobs to kill Sikhs in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.

While pronouncing the judgement, Delhi High Court said: “In the summer of 1947, during partition, several people were massacred. 37 years later Delhi was the witness of a similar tragedy. The accused enjoyed political patronage and escaped trial.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Sajjan Kumar’s conviction by the court was a delayed vindication of Justice. “The Congress and the Gandhi family legacy will continue to pay for the sins of 1984 riots.” He further said that justice for the victims of 1984 was buried by the Congress – “the NDA restored fairness and accountability”.

Reacting to the verdict, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said: “We thank the court for giving us justice. Our fight will continue till Sajjan Kumar & Jagdish Tytler get a death sentence & Gandhi family is dragged to the court and put in jail.”

Former Punjab Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal also hit out at the Congress after Kumar’s conviction. In a tweet, Badal said: “Congress conspiracy to target and massacre Sikhs is being unearthed finally with Delhi HC convicting Gandhi family right hand man Sajjan Kumar in #1984SikhGenocide case. This is direct result of PM Modi’s initiative to form SIT which reopened ’84 cases to ensure justice to victims.”

In 2013, the trial court had cleared Sajjan Kumar of all charges but convicted five others including former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, Captain Bhagmal, and Girdhari Lal. All the guilty persons challenged their conviction in the High Court.

The CBI too moved the High Court against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar. The hearing and arguments in the case were concluded this year in October. The judgement was delivered by a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel.

The investigating agency had alleged that the accused were engaged in a planned communal riot and “religious cleansing”. Last year in March, the high court had issued show cause notices to 11 accused in five anti-Sikh riots cases which were earlier closed.

The accused were asked as to why should the court not order reinvestigation and retrial against them as they faced allegations of “horrifying crimes against humanity”.

Last month, a Delhi court awarded death penalty to convict Yashpal Singh for killing two men in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It was the first capital punishment in the 1984 riot case. The court convicted Singh and Sherawat for killing two men during the anti-Sikh riots. The Delhi Police had closed the case for want of evidence but a SIT reopened it.

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