- At least 3,000 were killed in 1984 Sikh riots
- Delhi High Court sentenced Sajjan Kumar to life in jail for his role
- Witness said she was slapped with false cases after naming Sajjan Kumar
Nirpreet Kaur was only 16 when she saw her father being burnt alive by a frenzied mob near a gurdwara in Delhi's Raj Nagar on the morning of November 1, 1984. Her father was the head priest at the gurdwara.
Today, she wept as she spoke to reporters outside the Delhi High Court which sentenced Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life in jail for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The 73-year-old politician was convicted in the killing of five members of a family in Raj Nagar and the torching of a gurdwara.
At least 3,000 people were killed when mobs led by Congress leaders targeted Sikhs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
"I have got justice after 34 years... He (Sajjan Kumar) will go to jail," she said, her voice choking.
The 207-page judgment describes the chilling witness accounts of what happened on that autumn morning. Nirpreet Kaur's father, Nirmal Singh, was doused in kerosene. When the mob was unable to find any matchsticks, a policeman shouted and gave a matchbox to one of the men who set the Sikh man on fire. Nirmal Singh jumped into a drain. The mob then tied him to a pole and set him on fire for the second time when they noticed that he was still alive. Nirmal Singh fought back and jumped into the drain again. His daughter saw the mob return and hit him with a rod. One of the men then "sprinkled some white powder (phosphorus) on him, causing burns," the order read.
A day after her father's killing, Nirpreet Kaur reported Sajjan Kumar, the area's lawmaker then, making a speech in which he said even those Hindus who were protecting Sikhs should be killed. "I saw Sajjan Kumar giving a speech saying that not a single Sardar who killed Indira Gandhi should be saved. My life became hell since then," Ms Kaur said.
Nirpreet Kaur said after she named Sajjan Kumar, she was slapped with the now-defunct TADA law on her for alleged links with Sikh militant groups. The charges were later dropped. "I had false cases against ne and I was jailed. My mother too wasn't spared. She too had to spend three years in jail," she said.
Another woman, Jagdish Kaur, witnessed her son and husband killed before her eyes on the same afternoon Nirpreet Kaur's father was murdered.
"It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail. The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt," the High Court said in its verdict.
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