The Delhi Assembly Friday passed a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, from former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, alleging that he justified the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of his mother and the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
The Delhi government should “strongly” convey in writing to the Union Home Ministry (MHA) that justice continues to elude the families and near-dear ones of the victims of the worst “genocide” in the history of India’s national capital, the resolution said.
Gandhi was conferred with the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991.
Previously, the BJP had also demanded that Gandhi be stripped off the award over his statements on the assassination of Indira Gandhi, which triggered the riots in 1984. In his first speech after the riots, Gandhi had said: “Whenever a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.
Earlier, senior Supreme Court advocate HS Phoolka had also said the Centre should withdraw the Bharat Ratna conferred on Gandhi as “he justified anti-Sikh 1984 riots,” adding that “such a PM doesn’t deserve to be given Bharat Ratna.”
Reversing a trial court order in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was convicted and sentenced to life by the Delhi High Court on Monday. Former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and two others were also held guilty in the case relating to the murder of five members of a Sikh family in Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984.
The court, while sentencing Kumar, had noted: “The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment.”
Delhi Assembly passes a resolution urging the Centre to take back India’s highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ from late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, alleging that he “justified” the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. @IndianExpress
— Sourav Roy Barman (@Sourav_RB) December 21, 2018
In November, the Patiala House Court in Delhi awarded death sentence to Yashpal Singh and handed another convict Naresh Sherawat life imprisonment for their role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots. This was the first conviction in five of the eight cases that were reopened and investigated by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted in 2015.
While the Congress party has denied any role in the rampage, former prime minister Manmohan Singh recounted the remorse for the killings in a speech in the Parliament in 2005.
“I have no hesitation in apologising to the Sikh community (for the 1984 carnage)”, Singh had declared in the Rajya Sabha in response to an Opposition-sponsored motion demanding that the prime minister seek forgiveness from the country for the riots.
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