New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Delhi High Court has sentenced a Congress politician to life imprisonment in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, a carnage that erupted after the assassination of Prime Minister and Congress leader Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. "Common to the instances of mass crimes are the targeting of minorities and attacks spearheaded by dominant political actors facilitated by the law enforcement agencies", the Delhi HC observed in its 1984 anti-Sikh riots judgment read out today.
— Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) December 17, 2018
The Delhi High Court's sentence against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar pertained to the killing of five members of a Sikh family during the anti-Sikh riots. The court directed Kumar not to leave the national capital and surrender before the court concerned on or before December 31. The court also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh (approximately $1,500) on Kumar in the case. The court found him guilty of criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, and acts against communal harmony.
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) December 17, 2018
Political parties across the board have welcomed the judgment, but have called it an instance of delayed justice. The official response from the Congress party is still awaited on the judgment.
— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) December 17, 2018
I welcome Delhi High Court verdict convicting Sajjan Kumar in 1984 riots case.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 17, 2018
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) December 17, 2018
The anti-Sikh riots began on 1st of November 1984, on the morning after the assassination of the then Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and had continued for the next four days in which there were mass killings and rapes of Sikh community members. Delivering the judgment today the court said, "Common to the instances of mass crimes are the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by the dominant political actors facilitated by the law enforcement agencies. The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment".
"Bringing such criminals to justice does pose a serious challenge to our legal system. Decades pass by before they can be made answerable. This calls for strengthening the legal system. Neither crimes against humanity nor genocide are part of our domestic law of crime", it added.
The hearings in the 1984 Sikh carnage case have been delayed several times and several government-appointed committees and commissions had investigated the cases as time went by. Lastly, on January 10 this year, a bench led by then-Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra ordered the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the oversight of the Supreme Court to investigate 186 cases that had been closed before.