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Sajjan acquitted in riots case

New Delhi, Dec. 23: A city court today acquitted former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and 12 other accused in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case for want of evidence.

“The total evidence (presented) fails miserably to prove the case against Sajjan Kumar or any of the other accused persons,” additional sessions judge Manju Goel said. Goel had last week heard final arguments in the case against Sajjan. “There is no circumstantial evidence in this case to connect the accused with the offence,” Goel ruled.

Kumar has already been acquitted in two of the three police cases registered against him in connection with the anti-Sikh violence following then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.

While Sajjan said he had full faith in the judiciary, senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, who represented the families of victims, blamed Delhi police for the Congress leader’s acquittal, saying the police did not carry out the probe “honestly”.

The case against Sajjan was registered on a complaint of Anwar Kaur, who alleged that a mob instigated by the Congress leader had lynched her husband in Sultanpuri, west Delhi, on November 1, 1984.

On December 22, 1984, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against the accused. The agency had charged Sajjan with spreading communal disharmony, rioting, instigating the mob to murder, loot and burn the Sikhs.

The other accused were Nathu Pradhan, Brahmanand Gupta, Udal Singh, Shishram, Jai Bhagwan Gupta, Peera Ram, Hanuman Prasad, Satyaveer Singh, Mahender Singh, Islam, Rajendra Singh and Jai Kishen.

Appearing in court in March 1999, Kaur identified Sajjan as the person who instigated the mob that killed her husband Navin Singh. Kaur said her husband was killed by the mob that also burnt down a gurdwara near her home. She alleged that her husband’s body was burnt after the mob beat him to death with sticks.

The court, however, pointed out that there were contradictions in the statements of the witnesses to the Sajjan-incited riots. “Her statements in examination-in-chief and later during the cross-examination are contradictory,” the court said. The contradictory statements of Kaur “destroy” the prosecution evidence.

During the examination-in-chief, she named Sajjan Kumar being present in the mob. But in the cross-examination, she said she had named him as the police had said he was in the mob and she herself had not seen him, the court observed.

“There is no other eye witness apart from those mentioned,” the court said, adding that “other evidence in the case is poor”.

Expressing “shock” at the decision, SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar said in Phagwara that an appeal will be filed in Delhi High Court against the order.

“If those responsible for the carnage of Sikhs and travails of widows are freed after 18 years in this way, the Sikhs will lose faith in courts,” he told reporters. The judgment has shaken the entire Sikh community, Badungar said.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government appointed the G.T. Nanavati Commission as it felt that another inquiry, conducted in 1985-86, had allegedly played down the role of Congress leaders in the anti-Sikh violence.

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