Distancing itself from party leader Sam Pitroda’s reported remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Congress issued a press statement Friday which underlined party’s support for the quest for justice and stern punishment for those found guilty in the 1984 riots. In an official statement put out on Twitter by party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, Congress also advised its party leaders ‘to be careful and sensitive’.
“Violence and riots are unacceptable and unpardonable in our society. Indian National Congress and its leadership have strived to ensure justice for 1984 riot victims. We continue to support the quest for justice and stern punishment for those found guilty in 1984 riots as also the subsequent acts of violence including the 2002 Gujarat riots. Any opinion remark made by any individual to the contrary including Shri Sam Pitroda is not the opinion of the Congress party. We advise all leaders to be careful and sensitive,” read the party statement.
According to news agency ANI, when asked about BJP’s claims that instructions to “kill” in 1984 had come from former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Pitroda had said, “1984 mein hua toh hua (It happened in 1984, so what?)”.
Reacting to the controversy, Pitroda told ANI: “The statement I made was completely twisted, taken out of context because my Hindi isn’t good, what I meant was ‘jo hua vo bura hua,’ I couldn’t translate ‘bura‘ in my mind. What I meant was move on. We have other issues to discuss as to what BJP govt did and what it delivered. I feel sorry that my remark was misrepresented, I apologise. This has been blown out of proportion,” Pitroda said.
Pitroda later accused the saffron party of “twisting his words and distorting facts” to “hide their failures”. “I have noticed how BJP is again twisting three words from my interview to distort facts, divide us and hide their failures. Sad that they have nothing positive to offer,” Pitroda tweeted on Friday.
While stating that it believes that justice should be done to 1984 riots victims, Congress also added that the same justice should also be delivered to 2002 Gujarat riots victims. “We abhor violence of any kind, against any person or a group of people based on their caste, colour, region or religion. This is the essence of India,” the statement said.
Congress statement also made an indirect reference to BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur, who is a terror accused in the Malegaon blasts. “…Unlike the BJP, which has decided to field a candidate charged with terror crimes and is being lauded as its face by none less than Shri Narendra Modi himself, Congress party has shown the moral and political courage to punish people and leaders accused of violence/role in 1984. This is the yardstick of self-imposed accountability and sense of justice to people followed by the Congress party, unlike the BJP.”
“For BJP, riots are vote garnering exercise in every election, instead of ensuring justice and closure. People should see through this Machiavellian game of deception, distraction and distortion by Shri Narendra Modi,” the statement read.