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Cong as party had no role in riots, says Amarinder

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

With the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal attacking Rahul Gandhi for denying the Congress party’s role in the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the Congress, as a party, was never involved in the riots.

Lashing out at SAD president for describing Gandhi as ‘bhagidaar’ (partner) in this most inhuman and dastardly act (riots), the CM said it was an “unwarranted and uncalled for attack” on the Congress leader on the issue of 1984 riots”.

Castigating Badal president for his statement that Rahul was a ‘partner (bhagidar) in the crime’, Amarinder said the Gandhi scion was in school at the time of Operation Blue Star. “To blame him for anything was totally absurd,” he said, in a hardhitting statement issued here.

To hold Rahul responsible for an act which he was not even aware of at the time it happened was completely ridiculous, said the CM, lashing out at Badal over his statement.

The Congress, as a party, was never involved in the riots, that continue to haunt the Sikh community, Amarinder said.

He said that if any individual was involved, he or she would be dealt with as per the law. “To blame the entire party for the acts of a few was preposterous and typical of the political immaturity of Sukhbir Badal”, the CM said.

Amarinder said Rahul’s latest comments need to be seen in context with his earlier statements on 1984 riots, wherein he himself had named some Congressmen.

“You cannot blame an entire party because of the acts of such individuals”, said Amarinder while reiterating that whosoever was involved in the senseless killings in 1984 should be hanged, irrespective of his or her political affiliations.

Such thoughtless and superfluous statements were typical of the Akalis, particularly the Badals, said Amarinder, adding that Sukhbir’s comments were a clear sign of his frustration at the complete political alienation of SAD in Punjab.

How else could one explain the senseless interpretation that Sukhbir had given to the remarks made by Gandhi on the issue of the 1984 riots, asked the CM, adding that it was evident that the Akalis obviously did not have either the maturity or the sensitivity to understood or appreciate the sentiment behind the regrets expressed by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on the issue.

Their statements were never an admission of guilt or Congress party’s involvement in the riots, said Amarinder Singh, and added that there was, thus, no question of a volte face by Gandhi.

By attacking Gandhi on the issue, and saying that he knew about the role of any individual Congress leaders in the riots, Badal had only exposed his fear of the Congress president’s growing popularity, both in India and abroad, said the CM.

Amarinder said Gandhi, in his speech, had unambiguously condemned all sorts of violence, including 1984 riots, and had called for strict punishment to its perpetrators.