The CBI,which called the 1984 anti-Sikh riots a planned communal riot with a motive of religious cleansing,on Thursday asked for death penalty of the three men convicted for the killing of five persons in a Delhi Cantonment colony during the riots. But the court,after noting that the case did not fall under rarest of rare category,handed life imprisonment to former MCD councillor Balwant Khokhar,retired Navy Captain Bhagmal and Girdharilal.
Congress leader Sajjan Kumar,also an accused in the case,had been acquitted of all charges by the court on April 30.
District and Sessions Judge J R Aryan also sentenced two others former MLA Mahender Yadav and Balwants brother Krishan Khokhar to three years imprisonment.
The order was passed after more than an hour of arguments in a closed door hearing. The court noted that though the killings were grave and victims of a particular community had been targeted,the attackers had no special or personal animosity towards anyone or the deceased individually. The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had blindfolded those youths and,unfortunately,there was no leadership to bridle the mob frenzy unleashed with all cruelty.
The court also cited a Supreme Court judgment in another 1984 riots case.
The defence asked that Mahender Yadav and Krishan,who had been convicted of rioting,be released on probation due to the lapse of time and short duration of the sentence. The court,however,declined the plea.
After the sentencing,Jagdish Kaur,complainant and eyewitness in the case,said that she was disappointed with the judgment. Why did they let these murderers off with such little punishment? she said.
The CBI is expected to file an appeal against Sajjan Kumars acquittal and against the lighter sentence. We cannot comment till we have a copy of the judgment, CBI prosecutor D P Singh said.