Congress leader Sajjan Kumar convicted in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court on Monday.

Sajjan Kumar, 73, was found guilty by the Delhi HC which had earlier dismissed a court order of acquitting him. Kumar was convicted of killing five members of a Sikh family amidst the 1984 Sikh riots in Delhi’s Raj Nagar area.

Alongside Kumar, Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Kishan Khokkar and former legislator Mahender Yadav have been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kumar’s lawyer Anil Sharma told reporters that he respects the HC’s judgement, but will move Supreme  Court against the judgement.  

Today’s verdict reversed the 2013 trial court judgment which had acquitted Kumar.

While pronouncing the judgment the judge observed, “In the summer of 1947, during partition, several people were massacred. 34 years later Delhi was the witness of a similar tragedy. The accused enjoyed political patronage and escaped trial.”

“It was an extraordinary case where it was going to be impossible to proceed against Sajjan Kumar in normal scheme of things as there appeared to be ongoing large-scale efforts to suppress cases against him by not even recording them”, the court further added.

The Delhi HC has asked Kumar to surrender by December 31 and imposed a fine of rupees five lakh.

“We welcome the judgement, however, we hoped for a death sentence for Sajjan Kumar,” said BJP’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

The judgment was pronounced on the appeal challenging the Congress leader’s acquittal. On October 29 the Delhi High Court had reserved the order in the case after the culmination of arguments.

Furthermore, Finance Minister Arjun Jaitley told reporters that, “Judgement of Delhi High Court is an extremely welcome development. For many of us who are witnesses, it was perhaps the worst kind of genocide that we ever saw. Congress govts in that period repeatedly indulged in coverup exercises.”

Earlier in 2013, the Karkardooma trial court had acquitted Kumar and convicted five others in the case. The appeal in High Court was filed by those convicted in the case, investigative agency CBI and the family of victims. The trial court had awarded life imprisonment to former Congress councilor Balram Khokhar, retired naval officer Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal. A three- year jail term was awarded to Kishan Khokhar and former MLA Mahender Yadav. 

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