The Delhi High Court on Monday convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and awarded him life imprisonment in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Kumar was found guilty of killing five Sikhs in Delhi’s cantonment area following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. While delivering the judgment in one of the hundreds 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases, the High Court had also mentioned other incident of similar violence, including 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim riots when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state.
The High Court said that bringing the perpetrators to justice in such cases was a challenge for the judiciary as they enjoyed political patronage and managed to avoid the trial and punishment. The court said that neither crimes against humanity nor genocide were part of our low of crime and this was a loophole that needed to be addressed.
The court mentioned several other incidents of violence, including the 2002 Gujarat riots, 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, when minority community was targeted and law enforcement agencies remained mute spectator.
“In India, the riots in early November 1984 in which in Delhi alone 2,733 Sikhs and nearly 3,350 all over the country were brutally murdered (these are official figures) was neither the first instance of a mass crime nor, tragically, the last. The mass killings in Punjab, Delhi and elsewhere during the country's partition remains a collective painful memory as is the killings of innocent Sikhs in November 1984. There has been a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008 and in Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013 to name a few," the court said.
While delivering the verdict on Sajjan Kumar, the court said that such mass crimes mostly targeted minority communities and those behind them enjoyed political patronage as well as assistance from law enforcement agencies.
"The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment. Bringing such criminals to justice poses a serious challenge to our legal system. As these appeals themselves demonstrate, decades pass by before they can be made answerable...,” the court order noted.
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