Delhi High Court reversed the acquittal of Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar on Monday, sentencing him to prison for the “remainder of his natural life”. The convict was found guilty for inciting and carrying out violence during the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots
Delhi High Court found Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar guilty of killing five members of a Sikh family from Raj Nagar and for incinerating a Delhi Gurdwara during the Anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The court reversed a previous acquittal order and sentenced the 73 year old politician to life imprisonment.
The 1984 riots paralysed India with violence soon after the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The assassination was carried out on October 31, 1984, by the leader’s bodyguards, who belonged to the Sikh community. This unleashed a phase of communal violence in many parts of the country. The situation in Delhi was particularly dire. Over three thousand innocent civilians lost their lives across the country.
In its judgement on Monday, the court declared, “It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail”. Highlighting the condition of victims like Jagdish Kaur and Nirpreet Kaur, who fought an intimidating battle for justice for 34 years, the court said “The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt”.
Jagdish Kaur, who watched her teen son being burnt alive and Nirpreet Kaur, who saw her father being dragged out and set ablaze were both present at the hearing. Tears filled their eyes as the verdict was declared.
The court also found Sajjan Kumar guilt of instigating violent mobs, adding “Criminals have enjoyed political patronage”. In 2013, a court convicted former Congress Councillor, Balwan Khokhar and retired Naval Officer, Captain Bhagmal in the Raj Nagar family murder case, exonerating Sajjan Kumar of all charges. The CBI soon reopened the case stating the convict’s participation in the “planned communal riot” and “religious cleansing”.
Indian Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley has asserted “this was the worst kind of genocide. Thousands of innocents were burnt and killed by mobs led by Congress leaders. Instead of ensuring justice, the Congress government indulged in a cover-up”. Defending the Indian National Congress, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal said the Sajjan Kumar was banned by the party from contesting elections.