India’s opposition party leader sentenced to life imprisonment

India’s opposition party leader sentenced to life imprisonment

The Delhi High Court found Sajjan Kumar guilty of instigating mobs during the violence that followed the killing of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

The HC verdict overturns the trial court's judgment of the Congress leader which acquitted him in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case.

A Bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel had in October concluded hearing arguments on appeals filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, anti-Sikh riots victims and the convicts.

The 73-year-old Kumar, then a leader in Gandhi's Congress party, was convicted of inciting a New Delhi mob to kill a Sikh family. "Our fight will continue till Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler get a death sentence & Gandhi family is dragged to the court & put in jail", said SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

He was found guilty over a case involving the murder of five members of a Sikh family in New Delhi after key testimonies from eye witnesses.

Phoolka, an Aam Aadmi Party leader, has been representing the riot victims since the beginning before the Supreme Court, the Delhi high court and various trial courts.

"In the summer of 1947, hundreds of thousands of civilians were massacred during the Partition of India".

January 13, 2010: CBI files chargesheet including against Sajjan Kumar in the killing of five Sikhs in south Delhi.

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Further, he has also been charged for having publicly made a statement asking members of the Jat community to not leave any Sikh or any other person who had given shelter to Sikhs alive, inciting the mob gathered there, by delivering provocative speeches.

The violence in 1984 erupted hours after Mrs Gandhi was shot dead at her home, and resulted in nearly 3,000 people being killed.

Kumar has been charged with entering into an agreement with his supporters along with the Delhi Police to commit rioting, murder and causing damage with intent to destroy houses.

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

The court said: "A majority of the perpetrators of these horrific mass crimes, enjoyed political patronage and were aided by an indifferent law enforcement agency". The court today reversed the acquittal of Kumar in the case.

The accused, who were acquitted of the charges, were asked as to why should the court not order reinvestigation and retrial against them as they faced allegations of "horrifying crimes against humanity".

BJP leader and Union Minister Arun Jaitley said the conviction was "a delayed vindication of justice".

"There was an utter failure to register separate FIRs with respect to the five deaths that form the subject matter of the present appeals".

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