Sajjan Kumar, who was an MP at the time, was found guilty of inciting crowds to kill Sikhs.
In a scathing verdict, the Delhi high court judges said the accused evaded justice due to “political patronage”.
More than 3,000 Sikhs died in riots following the assassination of then PM Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
They were angry at her decision to send the army into the Golden Temple – Sikhism’s holiest shrine – to flush out militants earlier in the year.
The killing of Mrs Gandhi, who belonged to the Congress – now India’s main opposition party- saw mobs attack and murder members of the Sikh community across the country. The worst violence took place in the capital, Delhi, where more than 2,700 Sikhs are believed to have died.
For 34 years, high-profile politicians accused of involvement in the anti-Sikh riots had evaded justice – on Monday this changed with Sajjan Kumar’s conviction.
There are a number of cases against Kumar relating to the riots – Monday’s verdict is specifically over the killing of a family of five in Delhi.
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Kumar, 73, had been previously acquitted by a lower court for his role in the riots, but the verdict was challenged by the country’s top investigative agency which said he had been involved in a conspiracy of “terrifying proportions” with the police.
Jagdish Kaur, whose son and husband were among five family members brutally killed, described the verdict as “a little balm applied after a long time to our scars”.
“At least one high-profile accused will now go to jail,” she said.
Nirpreet Kaur, another victim whose father was burnt alive by mobs before her eyes, wept as she thanked the court for delivering justice after 34 years. Her case remains in the court system.
Kumar was convicted after several eyewitnesses testified against him for inciting mobs in Delhi’s Sultanpuri area