The Congress and the SAD engaged in a bitter war of words on Saturday over Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Golden Temple, with the latter demanding an apology from the ruling party’s president for Operation Blue Star and the former accusing Akalis of indulging in “shallow” politics.
Gandhi, accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, visited the Golden Temple on late on Friday night, soon after his arrival in Amritsar to mark the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
“Rahul’s visit is just to gain political mileage. He should have tendered an apology for Operation Blue Star of 1984,” Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said in Bathinda.
The Indian Army had carried out Operation Blue Star in June 1984 to flush out militants hiding in the Golden Temple complex. Badal held the Congress responsible for the “attack” on the Sikh shrine, also known as Harmandir Sahib.
“Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should have asked Rahul to tender an apology for the attack on Harmandir Sahib in 1984,” she said.
Earlier, she said in a tweet, “Pb CM @capt_amarinder took @RahulGandhi to Sri Akal Takht Sahib but lacked the courage to ask him to admit the @INCIndia’s sin of demolishing Sikhs’ highest religio-temporal seat with tanks & mortars. What a contrast with demand for British apology for #JallianwalaBaghMassacre!”
The Union minister’s comments drew sharp reactions from the Congress. “Did you, your husband @officeofssbadal or his father, Parkash Singh Badal, ever apologise for your great grandfather, Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia’s lavish dinner to Gen Dyer on the day of Jallianwala Bagh massacre? He was later knighted in 1926 for his loyalty and his deeds,” Singh tweeted.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar also attacked the Akalis. He alleged that the SAD had a “small thinking” and was indulging in “shallow” politics.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi paid floral tributes at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial and said the cost of freedom must never ever be forgotten.
The massacre took place in Jallianwala Bagh during the Baisakhi festival in April 1919. The British Indian Army, under the command of Colonel Dyer, fired machine guns at a crowd holding a pro-independence demonstration, leaving hundreds dead.