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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 14:02 GMT
Indian politician cleared over riots
Golden Temple at Amritsar
Mrs Gandhi died after ordering the Golden Temple raid
A senior leader of India's main opposition Congress Party has been cleared of leading a mob during anti-Sikh riots 18 years ago.

Sajjan Kumar was acquitted by the sessions court in Delhi because of a lack of evidence.

Indira Gandhi
Mrs Gandhi: Murdered by Sikh bodyguards
Mr Kumar had been charged of inciting a mob that targeted and killed members of the minority Sikh community in the Indian capital.

The riots were sparked by the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October 1984.

She had ordered a raid on Sikhism's holiest shrine in Amritsar in Punjab state to flush out separatist militants who had taken refuge there.

Nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the rioting.

'Serious contradictions'

The charges against Mr Kumar were laid after an allegation by a woman that a mob had killed her husband in west Delhi a day after Mrs Gandhi's assassination.

Sikhs
The Sikh community lost 3,000 members in the riots

The case was probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Detectives also charged 12 others, but all of them were acquitted by the court, which said that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges.

It also said that there were serious contradictions in the statements of the witnesses produced by the investigating agency.

Mr Kumar was the second prominent leader of the Congress Party to be charged for anti-Sikh violence.

Similar counts were filed against former minister HKL Bhagat.

It was the third time Mr Kumar had faced charges over the riots but he has been acquitted each time.

Mr Kumar was elected to the lower house of parliament twice for Outer Delhi, the second most populous constituency in India.

He won the seat for Congress in 1980 and then again in 1991.

See also:

15 Dec 02 | South Asia
31 Mar 02 | South Asia
01 Dec 99 | In Depth
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