New Delhi: A Delhi
court Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment three convicts in a
1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which Congress leader Sajjan Kumar
has been acquitted, despite the prosecution seeking the death
penalty. The victim's kin called the punishment inadequate.
District and Sessions Judge J.R. Aryan sentenced Girdhari Lal,
Balwan Khokkar and Captain Bhagmal to life imprisonment for murder
and rioting, while two other convicts - former councillor Mahender
Yadav and former legislator Kishan Khokkar, both held guilty of
rioting - were each given three years' jail.
A fine of Rs.1,000 each was slapped on all the five convicts.
The court sentencing three convicts to life term said that the
offences were grave as the victims of a particular community had
been targeted and the acts of the convicts were most gruesome in
The court rejected the plea of Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) seeking death sentence to Balwan, Lal and Bhagmal, saying
their offence does not come under the category of "rarest of rare"
warranting capital punishment.
The court in its 10-page order said: "They had no special or
personal animosity towards anyone or the deceased individually.
The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had blindfolded
those youths and unfortunately, there was no leadership to bridle
the mob frenzy unleashed with all cruelty."
It also rejected the plea of two other convicts, Mahinder Yadav
and Kishan Khokkar who were awarded three-year imprisonment that
they be released on probation.
The court's order further said: "There cannot be two opinions that
offences committed in this case were grave where victims of a
particular community had been targeted for killing and destroying
"This court has already taken the facts into consideration that
there were 341 killings in the area of police station Delhi
Cantonment of this case itself."
The 29-year-old case relates to the killing five people in Delhi
Cantonment area during violence against the Sikhs following the
assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on Oct 31,
Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh
and Kuldeep Singh - who were members of the same family - were
killed by the mob in Delhi Cantonment's Raj Nagar area.
Kehar and Gurpreet were the husband and son, respectively, of
complainant and eye-witness Jagdish Kaur. Raghuvender, Narender
and Kuldeep were her brothers.
The family members of the riot victims expressed resentment over
the punishment, demanding death penalty for the culprits.
"We are disappointed with the judgment as the quantum of
punishment is to less for these convicts. We want death penalty
for them," said Jarnail Singh who is fighting for justice for Sikh
The court April 30 had acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who
was also an accused in the case, contending that he deserved
"benefit of doubt" since one of the victims and key witness
Jagdish Kaur did not name him as an accused in her statement
recorded by the Justice Ranganath Mishra panel in 1985.
The case against Sajjan Kumar and others was registered in 2005 on
a recommendation of the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission which
inquired into the riots. The CBI had filed two charge sheets
against Sajjan Kumar and others in January 2010.
Earlier in the day, during the arguments on quantum of sentence,
CBI sought death sentence for Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and
Captain Bhagmal saying: "They were engaged in planned communal
riot and religious cleansing."
CBI prosecutor R.S. Cheema has submitted that the "victims were
totally innocent and they had not instigated anyone. A particular
community was targeted, particularly men, their houses were
destroyed and burnt and even the identity of the victims destroyed
by burning them".
On April 30 while acquitting Kumar, the other five accused had
been held guilty for the offences including murder, rioting and
unlawful assembly by the armed rioters.
In another case the court on April 10 had ordered the reopening of
a case against another Congress leader, Jagdish Tytler, in the
1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Tytler is accused of instigating a mob that led to the murder of
three men who had taken shelter at the Pul Bangash Gurdwara in
north Delhi on Nov 1, 1984.