Former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar surrendered before a Delhi court to serve life sentence in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which he was convicted by the Delhi High Court. The court had cancelled an earlier court order acquitting him of charges in what the judges called “genocide”. “It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail,” the court had said.
He surrendered before Metropolitan Magistrate Aditi Garg. The 73-year-old ex-Congress leader was sentenced to life for the “remainder of his natural life” by the Delhi High Court on December 17. It had set a time limit of December 31 for Kumar to surrender.
The High court had on December 21 refused his plea to extend the time of his surrender by a month. He has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the conviction and the life sentence awarded by the High court.
The case in which Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area of Palam Colony in southwest Delhi on November 1-2, 1984, and setting fire on gurudwara in Raj Nagar part II.
The riots had broken out after the assassination of then Prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by her two Sikh bodyguards.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri called it a small but significant development and said, “It’s been 34 years… it’s been an endless wait for justice for the families of the victims. Closure is important. Cases against others need to speed up now.”
Senior lawyer HS Phoolka, who has been representing victims of the anti-Sikh riots in courts for the last three decades, said that Sajjan Kumar had run out of legal options which is why he surrendered today. “We hope he doesn’t get relief in the Supreme Court,” Mr Phoolka said.