1984 anti-Sikh riots: Congress leader Sajjan Kumar gets life imprisonment 34 years later
On 28th November this year, the Delhi HC upheld the conviction of 70 of the 89 people involved in the riots, who were awarded five-year jail terms by a trial court for rioting and burning houses.
NEW DELHI: Over three decades after the mass murder of Sikhs in 1984 following the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, the Delhi High Court on Monday sentenced senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to imprisonment for the rest of his life.
A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said that the riots were a crime against humanity perpetrated by those who enjoyed political patronage and were aided by an indifferent law enforcement agency.
Citing a pattern of mass killings in India since Partition, like in Mumbai in 1993, Gujarat in 2002 and Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013, the court said the common thread was the targeting of minorities by the dominant political actors, facilitated by the law enforcement agencies.
“This loophole needs to be addressed urgently,” the court said adding that Delhi Police had turned a blind eye and blatantly abetted the crimes committed by the rioting mob.
Reacting to the verdict, Sajjan Kumar’s lawyer said he will challenge it in the Supreme Court.The case pertains to the killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar Part I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1-2, 1984 and the burning down of a Gurdwara in Raj Nagar Part II.
The bench said though it took over three decades to punish those involved, it was important to assure the victims that truth will prevail and justice will be done.
The accused in the case were brought to justice “primarily on account of the courage and perseverance of three eyewitnesses” - Jagdish Kaur, her cousin Jagsher Singh and Nirpreet Kaur, the bench pointed out.
Six accused, including Sajjan Kumar (73), who was a Member of Parliament at that time, were sent for trial in 2010. Three years later, the lower court convicted five but acquitted him.
The court upheld the conviction and varying sentences awarded by the trial court to the other five - former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and two former MLAs.
Large-scale effort to suppress cases: HC
“This was an extraordinary case where it was going to be impossible to proceed against Sajjan Kumar in the normal scheme of things because there appeared to be ongoing large-scale efforts to suppress the cases against him by not even recording or registering them. Even if they were registered they were not investigated properly,” the Delhi High Court said.