Sajjan Kumar acquitted in Delhi riots case; judge greeted with shoe

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar A special court in New Delhi today acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar of all charges leveled against him in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, inviting strong reaction from riot victims.

The verdict caused such strong resentment among the various Sikh groups that an aggrieved person hurled a shoe at district judge J R Aryan after he pronounced the verdict.

While acquitting Sajjan Kumar judge Aryan, however, convicted the other five accused in the case, including Balwan Khokkar, an ex-councilor, Mahender Yadav, an ex-MLA, Kishan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal for their involvement in the case.

The verdict was pronounced in a case filed against Sajjan Kumar in 2005 on the recommendation of the Nanavati Commission that investigated the mayhem that followed prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination on 31 October 1984. The CBI had filed charges against him and the other accused in January 2010.

CBI, in its concluding arguments last week, had told the court that there was a conspiracy of "terrifying proportion" between Kumar and the police during the riots that caused the death of over 3,000 Sikhs in the capital.

The CBI had charged Sajjan Kumar, along with the other five accused, with murder, robbery, rioting, inciting violence, and damaging of public property during the anti-Sikh riots in the Delhi Cantonment area.

Judge Aryan had, on 16 April, reserved the verdict in the case, after counsels for the CBI and the six accused concluded their final arguments in the case. All six were accused of instigating a mob to attack and kill the Sikhs.

The prosecution has mostly relied on revelations by witnesses at the scene of actual violence rather than on the origins of the riots. And, on the basis of revelations by witnesses, prosecutors also ''immediately eliminated'' Kumar's name from the police records.

This is one of the three cases registered against the former Congress MP from Delhi.

Sajjan Kumar, a former MP from outer Delhi, is also accused of instigating the mob during the riots in Sultanpuri area that killed six people.

Congress leader and other co-accused Ved Prakash Pial alias Vedu Pradhan and Brahmanand Gupta had moved the Delhi High Court challenging the trial court order to frame charges against them in the Sultanpuri case.

The high court yesterday deferred its decision, saying further hearing is required in the case. It has posted further hearing in the case for 15 May.

A lower court in 2010 had also charged Sajjan Kumar and others for spreading enmity between two communities in the Sultanpuri case.

Meanwhile, a Delhi court earlier this month reopened an anti-Sikh riots case against another Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who is also accused of inciting a mob during the riots.