The SAD on Saturday hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying by disagreeing with the view that his party was involved in the “genocide”, he had “rubbed salt into the wounds” of the Sikh community.
However, the Congress’ Punjab unit defended Gandhi’s comments and lambasted the Akalis, alleging they were “deliberately distorting” his remarks to divert public attention after being “exposed” of their role in Bargari sacrilege and subsequent killing of innocent Sikhs protesting the sacrilege in Kotkapura.
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Describing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots a “very painful tragedy”, Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to the UK, said, “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.”
Lashing out at the Congress president, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged that Gandhi was trying to protect those Congress leaders who were involved in the “genocide”.
“Rahul Gandhi has rubbed salt into the wounds of Sikh ‘quom’ (community) by saying that Congress was not involved in 1984 anti Sikh riots,” Badal told reporters here today, adding, “It shows the thinking of Gandhi towards Sikh community.”
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“I want to ask Rahul (Gandhi) if Congress leaders were not involved in the anti-Sikh riots then why it withdrew tickets given to party leaders HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. Why was Jagdish Tytler removed from the ministry in the Manmohan Singh-led government,” he asked.
Asserting that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also apologised for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said the fight to bring justice for the victims of the riots will continue.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders and Punjab ministers defended party president Rahul Gandhi over the statement he made in London.
In a joint statement here, the leaders said, the Badal family, including Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Bikram Singh Majithia, were allegedly trying to distort Gandhi’s statement in order to divert the attention from the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on Bargari issue that is going to “prove as death knell” for them.
The ministers and leaders including, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said Gandhi had clearly and unequivocally condemned the riots.
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“Normally the Badals are used to raking up the 1984 issue during elections. However this time, they are faced with more serious emergency as their survival is at stake in view of the Bargari revelations that are certain to script their political obituary and that is the reason they have resorted to such dirty tricks,” they said.
“Come Monday and the Badals will run for cover as people of Punjab in general and the Sikhs in particular will hold them in dock once they come to know how low they stooped to the extent of resorting to sacrilegious acts and wanton killing of the protestors for petty political gains,” the Congress leader said.
Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Commission was set up by the Congress government in April 2017 to investigate the various incidents of sacrilege of religious texts. It dealt with incidents at village Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari and firing incidents at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in 2015.