Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh on Thursday lashed out at Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal for trying to drag the “innocent” Gandhi family into the 1984 riots case, in which he said “only a few individual Congress leaders were involved without any support, covert or overt, from the party leadership”.

Sukhbir had on Wednesday asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to tell the people whether he would expel Jagdish Tytler from the Congress and remove Kamal Nath from the post of chief minister of Madhya Pradesh or wait for them to be sentenced by courts before taking action against them.

He had also demanded Gandhi to explain his silence and also clarify why he tried to mislead the people a few months back by claiming that no Congress leader was involved in the 1984 Sikh massacres.

Reacting to this, the CM ridiculed the SAD president’s “frustrated” attempts to undermine Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, under which the Congress recently won the Assembly elections in three major states. “It was evident that Sukhbir was desperately trying to grab at straws to fight back into the electoral game ahead of the parliamentary polls,” said Amarinder.

Lambasting the Akalis for exploiting religious sensitivities to garner electoral support, the CM asked Sukhbir to stop politicising such a sensitive issue.

“Misusing religion for political gains will not yield any dividends for the SAD and would backfire on the party in the Lok Sabha elections, as it had done in the 2017 Assembly polls,” he added.

The CM reiterated his stance that while individuals who had any role to play in spreading mayhem against the Sikh community deserved to be punished and should pay for their crimes, it was irrational to try and drag the Congress party as a whole, or the Gandhis, into the case.

“Rahul Gandhi was a school-going child and his father Rajeev Gandhi was away in West Bengal at the time of the violence,” Amarinder pointed out, lambasting Sukhbir for trying to exploit the religious sentiments of the Sikhs for “petty political gains”.

“Criminals have no religion and are not affiliated to any political party,” said Amarinder, adding that all those responsible for perpetrating the violence in the wake of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination would pay for their crimes.

“The courts have already set a precedent in the case by sentencing Sajjan Kumar to life term,” said the CM, expressing confidence that others guilty of the heinous crime would also meet the same fate.