Under fire for its chief Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that the Congress had no role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the party on Sunday went into damage control mode, saying its opponents should not sensationalise the massacre of over three thousand people for political gains. “Constantly distorting what Rahul Gandhi says is not going to convert untruth and lies into truth,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
The response from the party came after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said that the Congress president’s remarks on the riots had “rubbed salt into the wounds” of the Sikh community.
While listing out what the party did following the riots, Singhvi hit out at SAD and told them to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah about what they had done after the Gujarat riots in 2002.
“The Congress party from this forum and all over the country has condemned the tragic episode at least a thousand times, calling it the most unfortunate event. The party has never in the remotest sense directly or indirectly supported it. Even the then prime minister had apologised,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson also said political careers of several party leaders were also hit in the wake of their alleged role in the event. “A large number have faced criminal prosecution, some have been convicted, some are pending but the Congress has never interfered,” he said.
Late on Friday, Rahul Gandhi evoked a fresh political controversy by saying the Congress was not involved in the massacre of Sikhs that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.
Speaking at an interaction with UK-based Parliamentarians and local leaders in London on Friday, Rahul said the anti-Sikh riots were a “tragedy” and “a painful experience”, but added that the Congress was not involved in them.
“I think any violence done against anybody is wrong. There are legal processes ongoing in India, but as far as I’m concerned, anything done that was wrong during that period should be punished and I would support that 100 per cent,” he 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 a tragedy,” he added.
The statement triggered sharp reactions from other political parties with SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal saying the Congress leader had “justified the lynch mentality of the Gandhi family by shamelessly denying the Congress party’s role in the organized massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and had by this act become a ‘bhagidaar’ in this most inhuman and dastardly act”.
On Saturday in London, three pro-Khalistan supporters tried to disrupt the Congress president’s public event and chanted pro-Khalistan slogans. The trio was escorted out by the police before Gandhi arrived.
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