Indian Congress Party Leader Acquitted in 1984 Sikh Riot Case

A senior member of India’s ruling Congress party was acquitted of murder in a case tied to anti- Sikh riots in 1984, a verdict that sparked protests outside the court.

Sajjan Kumar, a former parliamentary lawmaker, is still on trial in one other murder case, his lawyer, I.U. Khan, told the CNN-IBN television channel, which broadcast images of Sikh protesters clashing with police. A shoe was thrown at the judge after he acquitted Kumar, the Press Trust of India reported.

The riots were triggered by the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, and were allegedly orchestrated by members of her Congress party. They left about 3,000 people dead in the capital New Delhi.

Gandhi was assassinated after she ordered the army into Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, in June 1984 to clear it of armed Sikh separatists seeking an independent nation.

A commission headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati named Congress leaders including Kumar in its report made public in 2005 for instigating crowds to attack Sikhs. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh, the same year apologized to the Sikh community on behalf of the government for the riots.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew MacAskill in New Delhi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at

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