There was high drama inside and outside the Karkardooma courtroom when district judge J R Aryan acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar of all charges in a case related to the killing of five men in a Delhi Cantonment colony during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Sajjan Kumar and his aides were in tears after his acquittal was announced while the families of the riot victims began shouting in protest as disbelief gave way to anger. Kumar was quickly escorted out of the court room as protesters chanted slogans and one hurled a shoe at the judge.
Septuagenarian Jagdish Kaur who was the complainant and key witness in the case her husband,son and cousins were killed by a mob in 1984 broke down and refused to leave the courtroom.
Judge Aryan pronounced his verdict during proceedings that lasted barely a minute while families of riot victims,mediapersons and others clashed with police outside the courtroom to gain entry.
An hour before the proceedings began,mediapersons and families of others killed in the riots were asked to vacate the courtroom. They were told a sabotage check had to be performed. The area was later cordoned off. The media could enter the courtroom only after DCP (East) intervened but by then,the order had been passed.
Jagdish Kaur,who had attended every hearing in the case in the past three years,was clearly distraught. They killed my family. Now the court should give me the death penalty, she told reporters. She refused to leave the room and was eventually escorted out by police personnel.
All India Sikh Students Federation president Karnail Singh threw a shoe at the judge. Singh was overpowered by policemen and taken to the police post in the court.
Jagdish Kaur and members of riot-hit families sat on a dharna outside the chowki for over two hours,demanding Karnails release since he had only expressed their disappointment over the verdict. Advocate Kamna Vohra,who has been representing families of the victims,said she would file a bail plea for Singh once he is produced in court on Wednesday.
Though the ruling came after 2.30 pm,over 300 Sikhs,including members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee,Akali Dal and other political groups,had gathered outside the court premises with placards and banners about the 1984 riots. As news of the judgment filtered out,several people began shouting anti-Congress slogans,and attempted to scale the gates of the courts to enter the premises. Many were detained and removed by the police.