Leaders from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Punjab Congress Committee on Monday welcomed the conviction of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The Delhi High Court sentenced Sajjan Kumar for conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. He has been given time till 31 December, 2018 to surrender.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel convicted Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony.
The riots, in which thousands of Sikhs were killed, broke out after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October, 1984.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley welcomed the judgement, saying Kumar’s conviction is a delayed vindication of justice.
Sunil Kumar Jakhar, president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said the party has been clear that whoever was involved in the riots should be brought to justice.
“Yes, justice has been delayed but delivered finally. Nobody is above law and anyone who is involved in such a heinous crime should be brought to justice,” the Congress MP told reporters outside Parliament.
He also said Congress leader Kamal Nath’s name never figured in the list of those involved in the riots.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the verdict convicting the 73-year-old Congress leader’s conviction.
“It has been a very long and painful wait for innocent victims who were murdered by those in power. Nobody involved in any riot should be allowed to escape no matter how powerful the individual maybe,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
His AAP colleague and Supreme Court lawyer HS Phoolka also welcomed the judgement and thanked everyone for their support and help.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav also reacted to the development.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also welcomed the verdict. He, however, reiterated his stand that neither the Congress nor the Gandhi family had any role to play in the riots.
Meanwhile, other Congress leaders said that Kumar’s conviction should not be politicised and the law should take its own course.
“It should not be linked to the political atmosphere prevailing in the country. The law should take its course, there are appeals,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
There have been verdicts in the past where people have been found guilty, while others have been absolved, he told reporters.
“This should not be politicised and political benefit should not be derived from this,” Singhvi added.
BJP spokesperson Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga, who is sitting on a hunger strike to Nath being named chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, said they will appeal in the apex court for death sentence to Kumar.
(With PTI inputs)