1984 anti-Sikh riots case: Delhi HC convicts Sajjan Kumar, gives life sentence

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was found guilty in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots today and has been sentenced to jail “for the remainder of his natural life” by the Delhi High Court, which cancelled an earlier court order acquitting him of charges in what the judges called “genocide”.

“It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail,” the High Court said, giving a shout-out to victims like Jagdish Kaur and Nirpreet Kaur, who fought for justice for 34 years and suffered intimidation and harassment. “The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt,” said the court.

“In the summer of 1947, during partition, this country witnessed horrific mass crimes where several lakhs of civilians, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus were massacred,” said Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel.

Thirty-seven years later, the country was again witness to another enormous human tragedy… For four days between November 1 to November 4 of that year, all over Delhi, 2,733 Sikhs were brutally murdered. Their houses were destroyed. In the rest of the country too, thousands of Sikhs were killed,” the court said in a 203-page order.

“Criminals have enjoyed political patronage,” the court noted, also saying there was “abject police failure” and the police failed to act against the inability of the victims to file complaints. It said the trial court had erred in acquitting Sajjan Kumar as he had instigated the mob.

Sajjan Kumar, 73, was convicted in the killing of five members of a family in Raj Nagar and the torching of a gurdwara in Delhi on November 1, 1984. He has been told to surrender by December 31.

“The investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of core crimes against humanity often take place years or decades after their actual commission. Such delay usually results as societies recovering from mass atrocity are faced with a variety of more pressing reconstructive needs; a fragile political environment; or a lack of criminal justice capacity,” the Bangladesh Supreme Court had observed.

“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,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Senior Congress leader and former union minister Kapil Sibal said Sajjan Kumar had not been allowed to contest elections and held no office. Mr Sibal also hit back at the ruling BJP. “What about the PM (Narendra Modi), who encouraged (riot accused) Maya Kodnani, who was jailed in the 2002 Gujarat riots (she was acquitted in April),” Mr Sibal said.

Abha Boyal

Abha has taste of years in journalism and writing. She is known to elaborate her findings in a vibrant way. With writing as her incredible skill, Abha also enjoys exploring new places. She stays focused on whatever she does and this makes her an all rounder.

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