Several political leaders on Monday said the Delhi High Court’s conviction of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, though delayed, is proof of justice. As many as 2,433 people had died in Delhi alone following the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.
“Sajjan Kumar’s conviction by the Delhi High Court is a delayed vindication of Justice,” Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley wrote on Twitter. “The Congress and the Gandhi family legacy will continue to pay for the sins of 1984 riots.”
The High Court said on Monday that the mass killings of Sikhs in November 1984 were “crimes against humanity” that will continue to shock the collective conscience of society for a long time.
“For many of us who are witnesses [of the riots], it was perhaps the worst kind of genocide that we ever saw,” Jaitley said, according to ANI. “Congress governments in that period repeatedly indulged in cover-up exercises. The cover-ups are now being defeated. Sajjan Kumar was a symbol of 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The legacy of 1984 anti-Sikh riots hangs around the neck of Congress and Gandhi family.”
Jaitley added that it was “ironic that this order comes on the day when another person who Sikhs consider guilty” is taking charge as the chief minister of a state. Jaitley was referring to Kamal Nath, who will be sworn in at 1.30 pm in Madhya Pradesh. He was questioned by the Nanavati Commission for his alleged role in the riots but had been absolved of involvement for lack of evidence.
Bharatiya Janata Party national President Amit Shah said “no one had any doubt” about the Congress’ role in the attack, PTI reported. “Their [Congress] leaders and workers went on rampage raising provocative slogans, raping women and murdering men in cold blood,” Shah alleged. “Yet no one was ever punished despite multiple commissions [being set up] and several eyewitnesses.”
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for setting up the special investigation team in 2015 to re-investigate several cases related to the violence. “I am grateful to the court, which has delivered its judgment, for bringing relief to the traumatised families,” Shah said.
BJP spokesperson Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga said they will appeal in the Supreme Court to seek death sentence for Kumar.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: “Justice delayed but not denied”, while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the verdict that came after “a very long and painful wait”.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa welcomed the judgement and thanked the court for the justice. “Our fight will continue till Sajjan Kumar and [another accused Congress leader] Jagdish Tytler get a death sentence, and Gandhi family is dragged to the court and put in jail,” he said.
Union minister and Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal called it a historic judgement. “Wheels of justice have finally moved,” ANI quoted her as saying. “It is Sajjan Kumar today, it will be Jagdish Tytler tomorrow then Kamal Nath and eventually the Gandhi family.”
Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia said Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s son Amit Sibal represented Kumar in the case. “Like in the case of Christian Michel where Congress lawyers were representing him, Congress party’s senior intervention is done only when some sort of Gandhis’ interest is there,” ANI quoted him as saying.
Senior advocate HS Phoolka, who represented the victims of the anti-Sikh riots in the case, also welcomed the verdict.
Several BJP leaders claimed the credit for Kumar’s conviction must go to the Narendra Modi-led government.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar said, “Nobody is above law and anyone who is involved in such a heinous crime should be brought to justice.” He said Kamal Nath’s name was never in the list of those involved in the riots, PTI reported.
The Maharashtra Sikh Association hailed the justice delivered to the Sikh community, “although delayed by 34 years”, PTI reported. “The painful stories that we heard bring to fore the ugly memories and pain of untold dimensions,” said association convenor Bal Malkit Singh. “We hope that all the criminals will be sentenced soon.”