1984 anti-Sikh riots row: Amarinder Singh names five Congress leaders, SAD asks where’s Tytler’s name

A political slugfest has erupted ever since Rahul Gandhi said the Congress was not involved in the massacre of Sikhs following former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.

Even as he continued to deny Congress’ role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday named few party leaders who were allegedly involved in the massacre following the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in the same year.

While addressing the media, Singh reiterated party chief Rahul Gandhi’s views that the Congress, as a party, was never involved in the riots. “There was no Congress involvement other than the involvement of some people. I have named few of them – Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri, Arjun Das and two others,” Singh was quoted as saying by ANI.

Immediately upping the ante against the CM for denying the party’s role and yet disclosing the names of five persons, except Congress leader Jagdish Tytler for his alleged role in the incident, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “He(Singh) took five names but he has a soft corner for Tytler. So, he did not take his name.”

Tytler was given a clean chit thrice by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the case. The clean chit has been contested in a Delhi court.

The SAD chief also asserted that the CM must write to the Supreme Court as the main witness in the case. “He (Singh) should write to the Supreme Court that he is the main witness in the case,” he said.

No confusion in my mind: Rahul Gandhi

A political slugfest has erupted ever since Rahul Gandhi said the Congress was not involved in the massacre of Sikhs following Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. “I have no confusion in my mind about that. 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. Certainly there was violence, certainly there was tragedy,” he had said during an interaction with UK-based Parliamentarians and local leaders in London on Friday.

“I think any violence done against anybody is wrong. There are legal processes ongoing in India, but as far as I’m concerned, anything done that was wrong during that period should be punished and I would support that 100 per cent,” he added.

SAD attacks Congress chief

In an immediate response, SAD accused the Congress chief of rubbing salt into the wounds of the Sikh community. Party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said Rahul had “justified the lynch mentality of the Gandhi family by shamelessly denying the Congress party’s role in the organized massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and had by this act become a ‘bhagidaar’ in this most inhuman and dastardly act”.

Amarinder comes to Rahul’s rescue

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh came out in support of his party chief and said the Gandhi scion could not be responsible for something he wasn’t even aware of. He also termed the criticisms against the party chief as “ridiculous”.

“To hold Rahul (Gandhi) responsible for an act which he wasn’t even aware of at the time it happened was completely ridiculous,” ANI quoted Singh as saying.

Rahul Gandhi was in school when the Operation Blue Star and later the riots took place, Amarinder Singh said adding ‘whosoever was involved’ in the senseless killings in 1984 should be “hanged”.

Congress lists work done post riots

Under fire for Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that the Congress had no role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the party on Sunday went into damage control mode, saying its opponents should not sensationalise the massacre of over three thousand people for political gains. “Constantly distorting what Rahul Gandhi says is not going to convert untruth and lies into truth,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

While listing out what the party did following the riots, Singhvi hit out at SAD and told them to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah about what they had done after the Gujarat riots in 2002.

“The Congress party from this forum and all over the country has condemned the tragic episode at least a thousand times, calling it the most unfortunate event. The party has never in the remotest sense directly or indirectly supported it. Even the then prime minister had apologised,” he said.

Congress’ apology in past

In 2005, then prime minister Manmohan Singh had apologised in Parliament to “the Sikh community” and the “whole nation” on behalf of “the government, on behalf of the entire people of this country” for the 1984 riots, saying, “I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place.”

“I have no hesitation in apologising to the Sikh community. I apologise not only to the Sikh community but to the whole nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood and what’s enshrined in our Constitution… So I am not standing on any false prestige. On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of this country, I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place,” Singh had said.

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