Sajjan Kumar, Convicted In 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, Surrenders In Court

While several witnesses and survivors gave accounts of Congress leaders inciting and leading mobs on the streets of Delhi in 1984, Sajjan Kumar is the first top leader of the party to be convicted

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Sajjan Kumar was in the Congress for over four decades. (File photo)


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Sajjan Kumar has been brought to the Mandoli jail in Delhi
  2. He was sentenced to life for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots
  3. He has approached the Supreme Court challenging his conviction

Sajjan Kumar, who has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, has surrendered in a Delhi court today. He has been brought to the Mandoli jail in east Delhi. The former Congress leader was convicted in the killing of five members of a family in Raj Nagar and setting a gurdwara on fire on November 1, 1984 by the Delhi High Court. He was the parliamentarian of that area at the time.

The court had 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 court had said.

Sajjan Kumar has approached the Supreme Court challenging his conviction and the life term. His lawyers are expecting an early hearing after the top court opens on January 2 after winter vacation.

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri called it a small but significant development and said, "It's been 34 years... it's been an endless wait for justice for the families of the victims. Closure is important. Cases against others need to speed up now."

Soon after the verdict on December 17, the 73-year-old had said he has three children and eight grandchildren and needed time to settle matters related to his property. He requested for one more month to surrender instead of the December 31 deadline, but his plea was turned down by the court.

Senior lawyer HS Phoolka, who has been representing victims of the anti-Sikh riots in courts for the last three decades, said that Sajjan Kumar had run out of legal options which is why he surrendered today. "We hope he doesn't get relief in the Supreme Court," Mr Phoolka said.

Sajjan Kumar was in the Congress for over four decades. In the last few years, he had been sidelined by the party over allegations that he had led blood-thirsty mobs targeting Sikhs in Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. At least 3,000 people were killed in the riots over the next four days.

While several witnesses and survivors gave accounts of Congress leaders inciting and leading mobs on the streets of Delhi, Sajjan Kumar is the first top leader of the party to be convicted.

The verdict had come out on a day when the Congress took charge in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh after its election victories. The three chief ministers were sworn in in the shadow of protests over senior leader Kamal Nath's alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

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