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1984 riots: Sajjan seeks more time from HC to surrender; appears in trial court in another case

twitter-logoPTI | December 20, 2018 | Updated 20:32 IST

(Eds: Combining details of high court and trial court stories) New Delhi, Dec 20 (PTI) Former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar approached the Delhi High Court Thursday seeking time till January 30 to surrender after being recently sentenced to life imprisonment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. 73-year-old Kumar, who was directed by the high court on Monday to surrender before authorities by December 31, sought more time saying he has to settle family affairs. The plea is likely to come up for hearing before the high court on Friday. He also appeared before a Delhi court amid tight security in another 1984 riots case in which trial is going on. The trial court adjourned the matter for January 22 after he said that his main counsel was unavailable. Kumar, accused of instigating a mob to kill Sikhs, surrendered his mobile phone before the court following directions of the high court as per its order convicting him on December 17. In the application filed before the high court, advocate Anil Sharma, representing Kumar, said he needed some more time to file appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the conviction verdict, and the leader has to settle his family matters relating to children and property. The plea said Kumar is "under shock and surprise" since the time he has been convicted and he believes that he is innocent. The case relates to killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1-2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar part II during that period. The riots had broken out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards. In the application, Kumar said he has a big family, including wife, three children and eight grand children and has to settle certain family matters including those related to property. The plea also said he has the statutory right to file an appeal against the high court verdict for which he needs to engage senior advocates who are presently out of India on holiday as the Supreme Court is on vacations. "The applicant (Kumar) is the best person to brief his counsel and inform them about the facts. The applicant prays that he be granted further extension of 30 days so as to enable him to settle his family affairs to meet his close relatives, near and dear ones including friends who have been associated with him over a period of 73 years of his life," it said. Kumar was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for "remainder of his natural life" in the case by the high court on December 17 which had said the riots were a "crime against humanity" perpetrated by those who enjoyed "political patronage" and aided by an "indifferent" law enforcement agency. The high court had set aside the trial court's verdict which had acquitted Kumar in this case. In the other case pending before the trial court, three persons -- Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta and Ved Prakash -- are facing charges of murder and rioting pertaining to the killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri. The witness, Cham Kaur, had on November 16 this year identified Kumar before the court as one who had allegedly instigated the mob to kill Sikhs. Kaur had told the court that she had seen Kumar allegedly addressing a crowd in the national capital's Sultanpuri area in 1984 that Sikhs had killed "our mother" and instigated the mob to kill them. In the Delhi Cantonment case, Kumar was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for "remainder of his natural life" by the high court on December 17 which had said the riots were a "crime against humanity" perpetrated by those who enjoyed "political patronage" and aided by an "indifferent" law enforcement agency. The court had said there has been a familiar pattern of mass killings since the Partition, like in Mumbai in 1993, Gujarat in 2002 and Muzaffarnagar, UP in 2013, and the "common" feature of each was the "targeting of minorities" with the attacks being "spearheaded by the dominant political actors, facilitated by the law enforcement agencies". The six accused, including Kumar who was a Member of Parliament at that time, were sent for trial in 2010. Three years later, the lower court convicted five of the accused but acquitted him of all the charges. The high court has upheld the conviction and varying sentences awarded by the trial court to the other five -- former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. It also convicted them for criminal conspiracy to burn down residences of Sikh families and a gurdwara in the area during the riots. The trial court in 2013 had awarded life term to Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal, and a three-year jail term to Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. Following the high court verdict, life term of Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal has been upheld and the sentence of Yadav and Kishan Khokar has been enhanced to a 10 years in jail. All six, including Kumar, have been directed by the high court to surrender by December 31, and not to leave the city of Delhi. PTI SKV UK HMP SA

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