Congress leader Sajjan Kumar gets life term in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case

The Delhi High Court has convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for conspiracy to commit murder in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and sentenced him to imprisonment for life.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel convicted Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony, media reports said.

The high court reportedly said Kumar’s life imprisonment will be for the remainder of his life and asked him to surrender by December 31. It also asked him not to leave Delhi before that.

The conviction of five others — former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal, former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar — were also upheld by the high court, reported PTI.

The high court was hearing the appeals filed by the CBI, riots victims and the convicts, challenging a trial court’s judgement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which Kumar was acquitted, the report said.

The high court had on March 29 last year issued show cause notices to 11 accused, including Khokhar and Yadav, in five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases which were earlier closed, it added.

The riots broke out after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984, the PTI report highlighted.

About Sajjan Kumar

Sajjan Kumar is a senior politician from the Congress who has been active in Delhi politics since the late 1970s. Kumar first tasted victory in the local municipal election in 1977 and was elected as a councillor. Sajjan later became a member of Parliament on a Congress ticket in 2004 when the UPA came to power after routing the Atal Bihar Vajpayee-led NDA. He won from the outer Delhi parliamentary seat.

Kumar was charged with instigating his supporters following the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. He was also accused of extending political patronage to the rioters. The CBI accused him and four others of killing six Sikh men during the ensuing riots.

However, Kumar was acquitted by a trial court in 2013 when it refused to convict him solely on the basis of the eyewitness testimony of the complainant, Jagdish Kaur, who had lost her husband, son and three brothers in the riots.

Political reactions

Congress leaders have said the conviction of Sajjan Kumar by the Delhi High Court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case should not be politicised and the law should take its own course. “It should not be linked to the political atmosphere prevailing in the country. The law should take its course, there are appeals,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

There have been verdicts in the past where people have been found guilty, while others have been absolved, he said. “This should not be politicised and political benefit should not be derived from this,” Singhvi said.

Kumar does not hold a position of power in the party, his colleague, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, said. “Don’t give it a political colour as it is a court decision,” he added

Sunil Kumar Jakhar, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said the party has been clear that whoever was involved in the riots should be brought to justice. “Yes, justice has been delayed but delivered finally. Nobody is above law and anyone who is involved in such a heinous crime should be brought to justice,” the Congress MP said.

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