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BJP, Akali Dal lash out at Congress after Sajjan Kumar's conviction

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(Eds: Incorporating related stories ) New Delhi, Dec 17 (PTI) The BJP and the Akali Dal Monday launched a broadside against the Congress after the conviction of Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and questioned it for picking Kamal Nath as the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, saying Sikhs consider him "culpable" in the violence. As the anti-Sikh riots came to haunt the party, the Congress said the case should not politicised, while Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said justice was done but asserted the Gandhi family's name should not be dragged into the matter. The AAP, meanwhile, blamed both the Congress and the BJP for the 34-year-long wait of the victims for justice. BJP chief Amit Shah said there was no doubt of the complicity of the Congress and alleged its "leaders and workers went on rampage raising provocative slogans" and "murdering men in cold blood". He alleged in his tweets that the victims had lost all hope of justice because those responsible for crime against them enjoyed political patronage of party leadership. BJP leader Arun Jaitley welcomed the conviction and also hit out at the opposition party for choosing Nath, claiming Sikhs consider him "culpable" in the violence against the community. Nath, who took oath as chief minister of the central Indian state Monday, has always denied any role in the riots against Sikhs following the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984. Jaitley dubbed Kumar a "symbol" of the anti-Sikh "genocide" and said the country had never seen murders on a bigger scale than this. His cabinet colleague Prakash Javadekar said the conviction was a "jolt" for the Congress and demanded action against Nath for his alleged involvement in the riots. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said hailed the verdict and said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi should be questioned about her alleged role as an accomplice of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the "massacre". "I am grateful to the high court that it has given a landmark judgement and it gives us confidence that yes if Sajjan Kumar today and Jagdish Tytler tomorrow and it will be Kamal Nath after that. Eventually it will be the Gandhi family who will be answerable," she said. The Congress, however said the a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case should not be politicised and the law should take its own course. "It should not be linked to the political atmosphere prevailing in the country. The law should take its course, there are appeals," senior party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. He said there were verdicts in the past where people were found guilty, while others have been absolved. "This should not be politicised and political benefit should not be derived from this," Singhvi said. Amarinder Singh hailed the conviction, saying justice was finally delivered to the victims of one of Independent India's worst instances of communal violence. He said neither the Congress, nor the Gandhi family had any role to play in rioting. He lashed out at the Badals, saying they were "continuing to drag" their names into the case at the behest of their political masters who were shaken by the mandate given to Rahul Gandhi's leadership in the recent Assembly polls. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said political colour should not be given to the issue as it was a court decision and added that Kumar did not hold a position of power in the party. "What decision has been taken by the court is a legal process. We have seen how cover up is going on in the Sohrabuddin case... and what about Justice Loya's death," he asked, referring to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case and the death of Justice B H Loya who was hearing the case. The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Sunil Kumar Jakhar, said the party has been clear that whoever was involved in the riots should be brought to justice. Shiromani Akali Dal member Prem Singh Chandumajra during the Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha demanded that the riots should be declared as a genocide. Another SAD leader and Delhi MLA, Majinder Singh Sirsa, said the judgment had "given us big satisfaction". AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the verdict. "It has been a very long and painful wait for innocent victims who were murdered by those in power. Nobody involved in any riot should be allowed to escape no matter how powerful the individual maybe," the Delhi chief minister tweeted. The AAP alleged that the BJP which was in power between 1998 and 2004 "did nothing" towards ensuring a concrete probe in the matter. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said that justice to victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was delayed but not denied. Delhi BJP spokesperson Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga, who is on a hunger strike to protest against Nath's nomination as chief minister, said they will appeal in the apex court for death sentence to Kumar. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh called it a "historic day" and said Rahul Gandhi should expel Nath and Tytler. The Punjab Congress Committee, the Maharashtra Sikhs Association (MSA) and the victims and their families also welcomed the court's decision. Jagdish Kaur, who lost her 19-year-old son in 1984, said 34 years is a long time but she was determined to "unmask the accused". PTI MIJ RAM UZM VIT ASK KR SKC SAB SMI CHS VSD TDS AAR

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