Congress leader Sajjan Kumar awarded life sentence in anti-Sikh riots case

Kumar, who has been convicted for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony, by the Delhi High Court, was earlier acquitted by the trial court.

December 17, 2018 11:01 am | Updated December 18, 2018 12:14 am IST - New Delhi

A file picture of Sajjan Kumar.

A file picture of Sajjan Kumar.

Thirty-four years after the mass killing of Sikhs in the aftermath of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Delhi High Court on Monday convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for the murder of five Sikhs in the Raj Nagar area here and sent him to imprisonment for the rest of his natural life.

It termed the killing of nearly 3,350 Sikhs between November 1-4, 1984, in Delhi and the rest of the country, as “crimes against humanity,” which were “engineered by political actors with the assistance of the law enforcement agencies.”

A Bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel overturned the April 2013 judgment of a trial court that acquitted Mr. Kumar. It said he was the leader of the mob and abetted the commission of crimes by his repeated exhortations. It asked him to surrender by December 31. “What happened in the aftermath of the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi was a carnage of unbelievable proportions, in which over 2,700 Sikhs were murdered in Delhi alone,” it said. As Justice Muralidhar recalled the atrocities, relatives of the victims broke down.

HC lauds courage of witnesses

The Delhi High Court relied mainly on the deposition of three witnesses, Jagdish Kaur, Jagsher Singh, and Nirpreet Kaur, noting that the accused in this case have been brought to justice primarily on account of their courage and perseverance.

Jagdish Kaur’s husband, son and three cousins were the five killed. Jagsher Singh was another cousin of Jagdish Kaur, and Nirpreet Kaur saw the gurdwara being burnt down and her father being burnt alive by the raging mob. 

“It is only after the CBI entered the scene, that they were able to speak up. Admirably, they stuck firm to the truth at the trial,” the High Court said.

It also upheld the conviction and varying punishment given to former Congress councillor Balwan Khokar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar by the trial court.

The Bench found it strange that while the trial court disbelieved the deposition of Nirpreet Kaur while acquitting Mr. Kumar, the same court relied on it to convict the other accused. 

 

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