Sajjan Kumar: Milestone conviction in deadly Sikh riots


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An Indian court has sent a senior Congress party politician to jail for life in what is being seen as the most important conviction so far over the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

Sajjan Kumar was found guilty of inciting crowds to kill Sikhs.

In a scathing verdict, the Delhi high court judge said the accused escaped trial because of “political patronage”.

More than 3,000 Sikhs died in the riots that followed the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Mrs Gandhi, who belonged to the Congress party, was shot dead by two of her Sikh bodyguards who were angry at her decision to send the army into the golden temple – Sikhism’s holiest shrine – to flush out militants.

The prosecution had accused Kumar of being involved in a conspiracy of “terrifying proportion” with the police during the riots.

On Monday, Nirlep Kaur, whose father was burnt alive by mobs before her eyes, wept as she thanked the court for delivering justice after 34 years.

Delhi high court Judges S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel found Kumar guilty of “criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony” and ordered him not to leave the city and surrender by 31 December.

Kumar was convicted after several eyewitnesses testified against him for inciting mobs in Delhi’s Sultanpuri area.

One woman witness said she had seen him addressing a crowd, telling them that Sikhs had killed “his mother” – a reference to Mrs Gandhi.


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