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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

‘Major milestone’ to ‘too little too late’: UK Sikhs on Sajjan Kumar verdict

1984 anti-Sikh Riots: The Delhi HC called the anti-Sikh riots case of 1984 “communal frenzy” after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards as it sentenced Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment in one of the cases.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2018 23:44 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was sentenced to life imprisonment in a case relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi by the Delhi High Court on Monday  (File Photo)
Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was sentenced to life imprisonment in a case relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi by the Delhi High Court on Monday (File Photo)(HT PHOTO)
         

A key interlocutor in talks between a delegation of UK-based Sikhs and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in London in 2015 welcomed the Sajjan Kumar judgment while a Sikh political group called his life sentence a case of “too little, too late.”

Jasdev Singh Rai of the Sikh Human Rights Group, who has been interacting with the Modi government on issues related to Sikhs abroad, called Monday’s Delhi high court judgement in cases related to the 1984 riots “a major milestone for worldwide Sikhs”.

“After 34 years, it restores faith in the judicial system when it is freed from political interference. I applaud Prime Minister Narendra Modi for keeping to his word when in 2015 he said his government will ensure that those responsible are convicted”.

“There is no doubt that the evidence was always there but under various Congress governments, the process of justice may not have functioned robustly and independently”.

Rai added: “Now that the Modi government is sincere in its commitments, (overseas) Sikhs who have held back from engagement in meaningful dialogue should seriously reconsider”.

Issues related Operation Bluestar and the 1984 riots have resonated in the United Kingdom over the decades, figuring in bilateral talks as well as in public events. The Indian high commission has been enhancing its engagement with the Sikh community over the years.

However, Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation (UK) said: “Whilst we welcome the long overdue decision to convict and sentence Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment for his involvement in the genocide of Sikhs, this is too little, too late.”

“Sajjan Kumar has been roaming the streets of Delhi for more than 34 years watched by the thousands of Sikh families that lost loved ones…We expect Sajjan Kumar to appeal and at best it will not be a surprise if he gets a reduced sentence and will probably be released after a short time in prison.”

In August, a pro-Khalistan rally was organised in Trafalgar Square by a US-based group. It attracted many supporters from Europe but divided the Sikh community in the UK, when frontline organisations and opposed it.

First Published: Dec 17, 2018 22:55 IST