New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The court asked Kumar to surrender before December 31 and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on him.

The verdict on Monday reversed the 2013 trial court judgment which had acquitted Kumar.

While pronouncing the judgment the court observed, "In the summer of 1947, during Partition, several people were massacred. Thirty-seven years later, Delhi was the witness of a similar tragedy. The accused enjoyed political patronage and escaped trial."

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

Also read: Sikhs of America thank PM Modi for bringing justice to those involved in 1984 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.

Earlier this year, Rahul said that he shared the sentiments of the then Prime Minister, who had apologised, and the then party president, who had expressed her regrets.

In August, Rahul said, “Congress was not involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.” According to unconfirmed figures, 3,000 Sikhs were killed during the riots, mostly in the national capital, and 50,000 were forced to flee their homes when the Congress was in power at the Centre.

Also read: Congress nailed, Sajjan Kumar jailed for life for leading mob during 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom

When he was questioned about Manmohan’s statement of apology, Rahul said, “When Manmohan Singh spoke, he spoke for all of us. As I said earlier, I am a victim of violence and I understand what it feels.”

According to a report in India Today, in an interview to a news channel, Rahul had acknowledged that "some Congress men were probably involved" in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When asked if he would apologise for the riots, Rahul veered away from the topic.

In its 2005 report on the 1984 riots, the Justice GT Nanavati Commission had named several prominent Congress leaders, including Jagdish Tytler, former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar, Kamal Nath and the late HKL Bhagat for playing a large role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The Congress has also chosen Nath as the chief ministerial candidate for Madhya Pradesh. This decision by the Congress triggered protests among the Sikh community. Nath has been accused of leading a mob outside the Rakabganj gurdwara during the pogrom. Nath had, however, denied his complicity in the violence. 

None of the high-profile Congressmen were convicted till now despite allegations and probes. By convicting Kumar, the Delhi high court has called Rahul’s bluff where he absolved the Congress from having any involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide.

BJP leader and finance minister Arun Jaitley said that Sajjan Kumar's conviction for the anti-Sikh massacre in the national capital 34 years ago is a delayed vindication of justice. "The Congress and the Gandhi family legacy will continue to pay for the sins of the 1984 riots,” Jaitley said.

“Justice for the victims of 1984 was buried by the Congress – the NDA restored fairness and accountability,” he tweeted.

Taking a swipe at Kamal Nath’s alleged role in the riots, Jaitley told Times Now, “It’s ironical that the verdict comes on a day when a politician who is considered guilty in the case by the people was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of a state by Congress”.