An Indian politician has been given a life sentence for plotting anti-Sikh riots in 1984 that killed over 3,000 people in the Indian capital , New Delhi alone, following the assassination of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi.
The Delhi High Court found Sajjan Kumar, 73, guilty of inciting Hindu mobs during the mass killings triggered by the death of Mrs. Gandhi at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh Agwan and Beant Singh.
At the time Kumar was a Member of Parliament with the then-ruling Indian National Congress party. He was acquitted in 2013 by a lower court but the New Delhi High Court reversed the judgement on appeal from federal investigators.
He was found guilty over a case involving the murder of five members of a Sikh family in New Delhi after key testimonies from eye witnesses.
A two-judge bench convicted Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acting against communal harmony, the Press Trust of India and other local media reported.
“It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail,” the court said, according to the NDTV news network.
Kumar, who has been asked to surrender by the end of this month, will have to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The 1984 carnage erupted just hours after Gandhi was shot dead at her residence in New Delhi on October 31,1984.
It lasted three days with Sikhs raped and murdered, their homes and businesses torched.
Gandhi was killed over her decision to use military force to expel Sikh separatists from inside the Golden Temple — Sikhism’s holiest shrine in the northern Indian city of Amritsar.
Critics accuse Congress of turning a blind eye to the killings and the role of leaders such as Kumar and Jagdish Tytler.
Last week, Congress named Kamal Nath as the chief minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh despite allegations that he had led one of the mobs during the riots.
Kumar last won a parliamentary election in 2004 but was forced to withdraw from the 2009 polls over the rioting allegations.
Last month, another accused, Yashpal Singh was sentenced to death for murder and rioting.
Sikhs make up some two percent of Hindu-majority India’s population of 1.25 billion.