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Politics India

1984 riots: Manmohan Singh’s googly leaves Cong red-faced

Sabrangindia 05 Dec 2019

1984

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set the cat among the pigeons when he claimed that the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom could have been avoided had then Home Minister PV Narshimha Rao paid heed to IK Gujral’s words.

Singh was speaking at an event to mark the 100th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister IK Gujral. He said, "When the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujral ji on that very sad evening went to the then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao and said to him that the situation is so grave that it is necessary for the government to call the army at the earliest. If that advice would have been heeded perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided."

Anti-Sikh riots broke out in 1984 following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had been gunned down by her Sikh body guards. Over 3000 Sikhs were killed in the pogrom. The massacre represents some of the worst human rights excesses committed during perhaps darkest days of the Congress government. When he was Prime Minister, Singh had apologized for the riots himself. Speaking on the floor of the house Singh had said, "I have no hesitation in apologising to not only the Sikh community but also to the nation. I bow my head in shame that such a thing happened."

But Singh’s statement that virtually throws PV Narasimha Rao under the bus while being silent on Rajiv Gandhi's role,  has not gone down well with many people, especially the family of PV Narasimha Rao. Rao’s grandson NV Subhash has now demanded an unconditional apology from Singh. Speaking to ANI, he said, “As a family member, I am feeling saddened by this statement by Dr Manmohan Singh. It is unacceptable.” It is noteworthy, that Subhash is a BJP leader. He joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 general elections.

IK Gujaral was the Indian Prime Minister in 1997-98. But more interesting is the fact that he was the Information and Braodcasting Minister when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975. Recalling his relationship with Gujaral, Singh said, "He was the minister of Information and Broadcasting and he had problems with some aspects of the management of emergency and then he was removed to the planning commission as minister of state. I was then an economic advisor with the ministry of finance... Thereafter our relationship grew."    

Once again the ghosts of 1984 resurface as the pogrom against Sikhs in 1984 is one of the worst India has seen. Like Nellie (1983) and Gujarat (2002) these upheavals continue to re-surface in public discourse even if substantive justice has been a pipe dream.

1984 riots: Manmohan Singh’s googly leaves Cong red-faced

1984

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set the cat among the pigeons when he claimed that the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom could have been avoided had then Home Minister PV Narshimha Rao paid heed to IK Gujral’s words.

Singh was speaking at an event to mark the 100th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister IK Gujral. He said, "When the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujral ji on that very sad evening went to the then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao and said to him that the situation is so grave that it is necessary for the government to call the army at the earliest. If that advice would have been heeded perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided."

Anti-Sikh riots broke out in 1984 following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had been gunned down by her Sikh body guards. Over 3000 Sikhs were killed in the pogrom. The massacre represents some of the worst human rights excesses committed during perhaps darkest days of the Congress government. When he was Prime Minister, Singh had apologized for the riots himself. Speaking on the floor of the house Singh had said, "I have no hesitation in apologising to not only the Sikh community but also to the nation. I bow my head in shame that such a thing happened."

But Singh’s statement that virtually throws PV Narasimha Rao under the bus while being silent on Rajiv Gandhi's role,  has not gone down well with many people, especially the family of PV Narasimha Rao. Rao’s grandson NV Subhash has now demanded an unconditional apology from Singh. Speaking to ANI, he said, “As a family member, I am feeling saddened by this statement by Dr Manmohan Singh. It is unacceptable.” It is noteworthy, that Subhash is a BJP leader. He joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 general elections.

IK Gujaral was the Indian Prime Minister in 1997-98. But more interesting is the fact that he was the Information and Braodcasting Minister when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975. Recalling his relationship with Gujaral, Singh said, "He was the minister of Information and Broadcasting and he had problems with some aspects of the management of emergency and then he was removed to the planning commission as minister of state. I was then an economic advisor with the ministry of finance... Thereafter our relationship grew."    

Once again the ghosts of 1984 resurface as the pogrom against Sikhs in 1984 is one of the worst India has seen. Like Nellie (1983) and Gujarat (2002) these upheavals continue to re-surface in public discourse even if substantive justice has been a pipe dream.

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