Japanese journalist Shiori Ito holds a banner reading "Victory" outside the Tokyo District Court after a court verdict ordered in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 18, 2019. Photograph:( Reuters )
On Monday, the higher court found the 72-year-old guilty of instigating the mob during the 1984 riots.
Thirty-four years after the killing of more than 3,000 people in the anti-Sikh riots, Sajjan Kumar, a leader from the Congress, has been sentenced to life by the Delhi High Court for his role in the riots that took place in the year 1984.
Kumar has been convicted for instigating the mob during the riots. However, there are still over 400 cases pending, waiting for justice.
The Delhi High Court, in October this year, had reserved its order on Sajjan Kumar for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea challenged the lower court’s judgment where Sajjan Kumar was acquitted along with five other men in the case.
On Monday, the higher court found the 72-year-old guilty of instigating the mob during the riots. The order said that the 1984 riots were engineered by political actors and the convicts enjoyed political patronage. The court agreed that the criminals escaped prosecution and punishment for over two decades.
Hailing the judgement, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Kumar's conviction is a delayed vindication of justice.
As per the information shared in the Rajya Sabha, so far 442 people convicted by various courts of Delhi in connection to the anti-Sikh massacre which saw as many as 3,000 people killed in Delhi alone.
The rare punishment of death sentence was handed down to only two accused in the case. According to reports, only 587 First Information Reports (FIR), official complaints were received for the three days of violence in Delhi. Out of those, the police closed 241 cases without investigation, citing the inability to trace evidence.
The court, in its verdict, stated that the police failed to register separate FIRs for several cases. Lawyer HS Phoolka, who fought the case for over three decades, said that the political patronage was provided to the convicts for many years.
The anti-Sikh riots erupted after former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The riots gripped several parts of the country. It is estimated that around 8,000-17,000 Sikhs, or more, were killed in other parts of India. Cases are still pending in several courts across India, primarily in Delhi.