Anti-Sikh riots of 1984
Sikhs shout slogans against Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who were accused of leading anti-Sikh riots in 1984, as they block a railway track during a protest in Amritsar April 8, 2009.Reuters file [Representational Image]

Leaders from the Aam Aadmi Party, the BJP and the Punjab Congress Committee on Monday welcomed the conviction of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The Delhi High Court sentenced Kumar for conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced him to imprisonment for life.

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.

"Yes, justice has been delayed but delivered finally. Nobody is above law and anyone who is involved in such a heinous crime should be brought to justice," the Congress MP told reporters outside Parliament.

He also said Congress leader Kamal Nath's name never figured in the list of those involved in the riots. The riots, in which thousands of Sikhs were killed, broke out after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the verdict convicting the 73-year-old Congress leader.

"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 may be," Kejriwal said on Twitter.

Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka also welcomed the judgment and thanked everyone for their support and help. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, outside Parliament, welcomed the judgment and said that "justice has been delayed but served".

Delhi BJP spokesperson Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga, who is sitting on a hunger strike to protest Nath being nominated by the Congress as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, said they will appeal in the apex court for a death sentence to Kumar.

He alleged that Nath was one of the persons involved in the riots Nath is scheduled to be sworn in as chief minister in Bhopal later in the day. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Delhi MLA, Majinder Singh Sirsa, said the judgment has "given us big satisfaction".

"It took 34 long years for justice because Congress was in power. The case was closed but it was opened again by the Nanavati commission. This case was kept closed by Congress for so long," he said.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh called it a "historic day".

"Sajjan Kumar received political patronage and went on to become MP. We demand capital punishment for Sajjan Kumar and other accused. Congress governments protected Sajjan Kumar. I hope Kamal Nath and Jagdish Tytler will also be brought to Justice," he told reporters.

"Making Kamal Nath CM of Madhya Pradesh shows that the Congress is still extending political patronage to those involved in the anti- Sikh riots," he added.

"Rahul should remove Nath, Tytler and Sajjan Kumar from the Congress," Manjit Singh said. Victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots criticised the Congress for nominating Nath for the chief minister's post in Madhya Pradesh.

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".

Another riot victim Narpreet Kaur said: "We have faced threats and oppression to backtrack but continued our legal battle due to support from our lawyers and leaders like (former Punjab chief minister) Parkash Singh Badal."

A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel convicted Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony.

The high court said Kumar's life imprisonment will be for the remainder of his life and asked him to surrender by December 31. It also asked him not to leave Delhi before that.