Sajjan Kumar, veteran Congress leader has been found guilty and sentenced to life in jail for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots by the Delhi High Court, which cancelled an earlier court order acquitting him.
73-year-old Sajjan Kumar was convicted in the killing of five members of a family in Raj Nagar in Delhi. The The Delhi court has asked him to surrender by December 31 and cannot leave the city.
The court said in its statement, “It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail,” the High Court said, referring to the courage of Jagdish Kaur, the victim who had fought for action against Sajjan Kumar and others. “The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt.”
At least 3,000 people were killed by mobs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, in November 1984.
Many survivors and witnesses gave accounts of Congress leaders leading mobs targeting Sikhs, Sajjan Kumar is the first top leader of the party to be convicted in the case. Notably, the order comes on a day the Congress takes over three big states after its election victories last week.
The court ranted that ‘Criminals have enjoyed political patronage’, and further said that there was ‘abject police failure’ as the police failed to act against the inability of the victims to file complaints.
Balwan Khokhar, a former Congress councillor, Captain Bhagmal- retired naval officer and three others were held guilty in the Raj Nagar case but a trial court had acquitted Sajjan Kumar earlier.
In May 2013, the convicts had challenged the verdict and their sentence by the trial court.
Reportedly, the CBI had also filed an appeal against Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal, alleging that the mobs were engaged in ‘a planned communal riot’ and ‘religious cleansing’.
After the verdict was passed today, Nirlep Kaur, who saw her father being burnt alive by the mobs, wept as she thanked the law for justice after 34 years.
Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, said he welcomed the verdict and added, “It has been a very long and painful wait for innocent victims who were murdered by those in power.”
He also added, “Nobody involved in any riot should be allowed to escape no matter how powerful the individual maybe.”