NEW DELHI: From a municipal councillor to a three-time Lok Sabha member, veteran politician Sajjan Kumar has scaled the heights of Delhi politics, but it was his alleged involvement in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case that gradually brought down his career and his eventual conviction.
Kumar Monday surrendered before a court here to serve the life sentence awarded to him by the Delhi High Court in connection with the case, which directed that he be lodged in Mandoli jail in northeast Delhi.
After his conviction, Kumar had resigned from the Congress party.
Sources close to him, said, the politician, grew up in Jatwada area in Old Delhi and later moved to Prasad Nagar area of Karol Bagh, slowly but steadily climbing the ladder of politics.
"In late 70s, he fought the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) elections, in which Congress had bagged just 14 seats, but he won by amassing huge votes from Nangloi. In 1977, he was also the general secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee," a senior Congress leader said, on the condition of anonymity.
The senior leader claimed that Kumar had proximity to former prime minister Indira Gandhi and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi.
A Jat leader, Kumar's rise in politics got a "big push" with his victory in the 1980 general elections from Outer Delhi seat, in which he defeated Chaudhary Brahm Prakash, who had served as the first chief minister of Delhi.
"Sajjan Kumar won his first Lok Sabha seat as a young MP and he had defeated Chaudhary Brahm Prakash with a huge vote margin. He ruled Outer Delhi, and this was his ascent in politics," the senior leader said.
According to Lok Sabha website, Kumar was involved in "extending financial help for marriage ceremonies of daughters of widows and poor women; rehabilitation of residents of JJ colonies; helping the handicapped and the disabled; active participation in movement relating to abolition of untouchability".
But, the aftermath of the 1984 riots put a brake on his career, after which Kumar "withdrew from public glare" and started contributing to the party from behind the scene, he said.
The anti-sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by her two Sikh bodyguards.
After 34 years since the riots broke out, the high court on December 17 had convicted and sentenced Kumar to life imprisonment for the "remainder of his natural life".
The case in which Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar Part-I area in Palam Colony of southwest Delhi on November 1-2, 1984 and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.
The senior Congress leader said, after a hiatus, Kumar was back in active politics, as he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha, for his second term in 1991, and again in 2004.
Kumar's conviction in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, signalled the end of his career, culminating with his incarceration after he surrendered on Monday.
He surrendered before Metropolitan Magistrate Aditi Garg who directed that Kumar be lodged in Mandoli jail in northeast Delhi.
The court rejected Kumar's petition to be lodged in the high-security Tihar jail, but allowed his plea for security and directed the police to take him to the prison in a separate vehicle.
While declining his plea to be sent to Tihar jail, the court said he was being sent to Mandoli jail in accordance with the rule.
The HC had set a deadline of December 31 for Kumar to surrender and on December 21 declined his plea to extend the time by a month.
The 73-year-old former Congress leader has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the conviction and life sentence awarded by the High Court.