Sajjan Kumar resigns from Congress a day after conviction in 1984 riots case

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar on Tuesday resigned from the primary membership of the party. He has written to party president Rahul Gandhi submitting his resignation. “I tender my resignation with immediate effect from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress in the wake of the judgement of the hon’ble high court of Delhi against me,” he said in the letter to Gandhi.

His resignation comes a day after the Delhi High Court on Monday convicted Kumar for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. 

Earlier in the day, Sajjan had evaded questions about his conviction outside the famous Hanuman Temple in Delhi’s Connaught Place. He walked past media persons and ignored repeated questions from reporters. He was accompanied by armed guards during his visit to the temple.

The Delhi HC held overturned his acquittal by the trial court and held that the violence was a “crime against humanity” engineered by politicians with assistance from police. The HC convicted him and five others saying that the “criminals” had escaped prosecution and punishment for over two decades.

“This court is of the view that the mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in November 1984 were in fact `crimes against humanity`. They will continue to shock the collective conscience of society for a long time to come,” a bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel said. Kumar has been asked to surrender by December 31 and cannot leave Delhi till then. 

“In the summer of 1947, during partition, this country witnessed horrific mass crimes where several lakhs of civilians, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, were massacred. Thirty-seven years later, the country was again a witness to another enormous human tragedy. Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, on October 31, 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards, a communal frenzy was unleashed. For four days between November 1 to November 4, all over Delhi, 2,733 Sikhs were brutally murdered. Their houses were destroyed. In the rest of the country too, thousands of Sikhs were killed,” the bench observed in its 203-page order.

The court said: “A majority of the perpetrators of these horrific mass crimes enjoyed political patronage and were aided by an indifferent law enforcement agency.”

He has been held guilty under various counts of Indian Penal Code (IPC) including murder, criminal conspiracy, delivering provocative speeches instigating violence against Sikhs, mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house and injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class. 

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