After Rahul Gandhi’s comment in London about “no Congress involvement” in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has caused political convulsions back home, especially in Punjab. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took the Congress chief’s statement ahead by limiting the party’s role in the riots to the involvement of five leaders he named in the assembly.
“The incident took place when Indiraji (Indira Gandhi) was killed, at that time Rajiv Gandhi was at an airport in Bengal. There was no Congress involvement other than some people. I have named a few people, Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri, Arjun Das and two more people,” the Chief Minister said.
He added that the “individuals are being tried”.
Yesterday, he had also defended Rahul Gandhi against attacks from the BJP and its ally Akali Dal saying he was “just a 13-year-old boy in school” at the time and to blame him was “ridiculous”. He said to blame the entire party for the acts of a few was preposterous and typical of political immaturity.
Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a union minister, said today that the Chief Minister should be “ashamed” of himself.
“Amarinder Singh, despite being a Sikh, says this. Unko chullu bhar paani mein doob marna chahiye (he should die of shame),” said Harsimrat Kaur.
On Saturday, describing the 1984 riots as a “very painful tragedy” in UK, Rahul Gandhi had said, “It was a tragedy, it was a painful experience. You say that the Congress party was involved in that, I don’t agree with that. “
The statement provoked rage back home with the Akali Dal accusing the Congress chief of trying to distance his party from the guilt of 1984.
Around 3,000 were killed when mobs led by Congress leaders targeted Sikhs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, months after she launched ‘Operation Blue Star’ to crush secessionist movement in Punjab and sent troops into the Golden Temple of Amritsar.
In 2005, a year after he became India’s first Sikh prime minister, Manmohan Singh had apologized in parliament for the riots. Rahul Gandhi’s mother Sonia Gandhi, then Congress president, had also expressed regret. During an interview before the 2014 polls, Rahul Gandhi had said he “shared the sentiment” of both leaders.