New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday sentenced Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment for involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. 

The court reversed Kumar’s acquittal and sentenced him to life imprisonment. He has to surrender by December 31, 2018 and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on him. 

The court also upheld the life imprisonment sentences of ex-Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired Navy officer Captain Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal. The sentences of former MLA Mahendra Yadav and Kishan Khokhar have been increased from three of 10 years of imprisonment. 

The Delhi high court while reading the judgment said, "In the summer of 1947, during partition, several people were massacred. 37 years later Delhi was the witness of a similar tragedy. The accused enjoyed political patronage and escaped trial". 

The bench of Justice S Murlidhar and Justice Vinod Goel had reserved its order on October 29. The Delhi high court had been hearing this case evryday from September 11. During a hearing on July 31, senior advocate HS Phoolka, appearing for the victims of the 1984 riots, said that they had not got justice even after 34 years. Hence, he appealed to the court to hear the case everyday so that a verdict can be delivered at the earliest. 

The anti-Sikh riots were a fallout of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, who in turn, were acting in protest to Operation Blue Star launched by her to flush out the militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Golden Temple complex. The Indian Army barging into the holy complex was not taken kindly by many Sikhs.

On November 1, 1984, Sikhs were attacked by a mob in the Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment. Five people of the same family — Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh — were murdered in that attack. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994, but it was reopened in 2005 on the basis of the Nanavati Commission report. 

Senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath, HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler were also accused to have led the attacks against the Sikhs. Notably, Kamal Nath has been selected by the Congress to be the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh after the party won the recent Assembly election in the state by a wafer-thin margin, and is slated to take oath on Monday. Nath has been accused of leading a mob outside the Rakabganj gurdwara during the pogrom. Nath had, however, denied his complicity in the violence.  

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has time and again denied the party’s involvement in the anti-Sikh riots.

In 2010, Manmohan Singh had apologised "on behalf of the Government of India" for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying that it should have never happened.

Earlier, Sonia Gandhi had said that she felt "anguished" by what happened during the riots. “I am anguished by the events of June 6,” she had said.

In 2013, the trial court had convicted Balwan Khokkar, Yadav, Kishan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal for their involvement in the case.

The lower court, however, had given Sajjan Kumar a clean chit. Those convicted by the lower court appealed against the ruling in the Delhi high court. Following this, the CBI challenged the lower court's decision to exonerate Sajjan. The argument was that the convicts had implemented the attack in a pre-planned manned. The high court rejected the appeal of the convicts and also held Sajjan guilty.  

According to the records of the government of India, around 2,800 people were killed in these riots, out of which 2,100 were murdered in Delhi itself. The role of a few government employees in instigating the riots also came to light in the CBI inquiry.