The court rejected Sajjan Kumar's petition to be lodged in the high-security Tihar jail, but allowed his plea for security and directed the police to take him to the prison in a separate vehicle.
New Delhi: Sajjan Kumar, a former Congress leader convicted five members of a family in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case surrendered in a Delhi court today after his plea for an extension of time to start his sentence was rejected by the HC.
He surrendered before Metropolitan Magistrate Aditi Garg who directed that Kumar be lodged in Mandoli jail in northeast Delhi.
The court rejected Sajjan Kumar's petition to be lodged in the high-security Tihar jail, but allowed his plea for security and directed the police to take him to the prison in a separate vehicle. On December 17, the Delhi High Court reversed Kumar's acquittal.
He had asked the Delhi high court to let him spend 30 more days with his family. In a 15-point request to put off his jail term by a month, Kumar has spoken about how the high court’s verdict finding him guilty had stunned him and needed time to prep for the jail sentence.
The case in which Sajjan Kumar was convicted and sentenced is related to the killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1-2, 1984, and the burning down of a gurdwara in Raj Nagar part II. The riots broke out after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.
Two other 1984 anti-Sikh riots convicts, Kishan Khokhar and Mahender Yadav, surrendered today to serve a 10-year jail term.
In its judgment, the high court had noted that over 2,700 Sikhs were killed in the national capital during the 1984 riots which were indeed a "carnage of unbelievable proportions".
It also said the riots were a "crime against humanity" perpetrated by those who enjoyed "political patronage" and aided by an "indifferent" law enforcement agency.
The HC had further said there has been a familiar pattern of mass killings since Partition, like in Mumbai in 1993, Gujarat in 2002 and Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh in 2013, and the "common" feature of each was the "targeting of minorities" with the attacks being "spearheaded by the dominant political actors, facilitated by law enforcement agencies".
Sajjan Kumar, 73, is a former Lok Sabha MP. He represented the Outer Delhi constituency thrice.
The order that comes close at the heels of the Congress’s resounding electoral victory in three key states in the assembly elections, is a sobering reminder that nobody, no matter how politically powerful, is above the law. During this 1984 genocide, over 3000 people from the Sikh community were killed by rampaging mobs in wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards. Eyewitnesses placed several top Congress leaders at the scene of different killings and Sajjan Kumar is only the first major leader to be convicted.
The Court not only noted that the “criminals have enjoyed political patronage,” but also that there was “abject police failure.” A former Congress Councillor, Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal and three others were held guilty in the Raj Nagar case but a trial court had acquitted Sajjan Kumar, the report said.
Justice delayed but not denied: Sajjan Kumar gets life term in 1984 riots case