M A I N   N E W S

Jagdish Tytler quits

President accepts resignation
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
After holding out for two days Union Minister Jagdish Tytler finally resigned from the Cabinet tonight.

Mr Tytler handed over his resignation letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the Lok Sabha that the Centre would conduct a fresh enquiry against persons who drew adverse comments in the Nanavati Commission report probing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The President later accepted the resignation. The report spoke of Mr. Tytler’s and Congress MP Sajjan Kumar’s probable involvement in the riots in which 4,000 persons were killed.

After the Lok Sabha debate, Mr. Tytler drove to Mrs. Gandhi’s residence to submit his resgination letter which was duly forwarded to the Prime Miniser who, in turn, sent it to the President.

Mr Tytler’s final act of putting in his resignation papers topped two tension-packed days of frenzied activity. Frantic messages were sent by senior Congress leaders to Mr. Tytler that he step down voluntarily. He,however, held out on the plea that there was no conclusive evdience against him in the Nanavati Commission report and stepping down would be tantamount to admission of guilt.

His obdurate stance both embarassed and angered the Congress leaders who felt that Mr. Tytler could have claimed the moral high ground if he had put in his papers at the first instance itself. It now appears that he acted under Opposition pressure, they said. Timely action would have taken the sting out of the Opposition attack today.

Efforts to persuade a reluctant Mr. Tytler continued throughout the day. He met the Prime Minister in the forenoon which was then followed with a meeting with Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Mr. Ahmed Patel, Congress President’s political secretary. It is learnt that it was explained to Mr. Tytler that his position in the Cabinet would become untenable once a fresh probe is ordered against him. If he did not step down voluntarily, the Prime Minister would have no choice but to ease him out, he was told.

Although the Congress had initially rejected demands for Mr. Tytler’s resignation on grounds that the Nanavati Commisson had found no evidence against him, it was forced to revise its stand following the sharp opposition onslaught, an adverse public opinion and the Left parties’ demand that action be taken against those named in the Nanavati report. Congress leaders maintained that though the Home Ministry was right in taking a “legalistic” view in its action taken report, the party and the government could not ignore public sentiment, which suggested that the Congress was protecting the guilty.

The Left leaders conveyed their stand to Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last evening at their coordination committee meeting and reiterated it this morning when they met again.The Left leaders, it is learnt, told the Congress that it would be difficult for them to back the government in Parliament if they failed to take steps on some key issues. These included an announcement of a probe into Mr. Tytler’s and Lok Sabha MP Sajjan Kumar’s role in the riots, an adequate compenstion package for the widows and orphans of the anti-Sikh riots and action against the police officers mentioned in the report.



PM promises all steps to reopen ’84 riot cases
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the government would take all possible steps within the ambit of law to reopen or further examine individual cases recommended by the commission on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Following the Prime Minister’s intervention the Opposition-sponsored adjournment motion on the Nanavati Commission’s report was defeated in the Lok Sabha tonight after a marathon debate. While 128 members voted in favour of the motion, 254 voted against it with one abstention.

Intervening in the debate on an Opposition-sponsored adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “There is absolutely no evidence” of involvement of late Rajiv Gandhi or any other high-ranking Congress leader in the violence that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Appealing to the Opposition to put behind this bitterness, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “We should throw away partisan spectacles and work together to find new pathways to ensure that such tragedies never take place”.

Observing that the government “cannot act if the Commission itself is not sure”, the Prime Minister said, “however, there is something called perception and sentiments.”

“The government respects and bows to these sentiments expressed in the House today. Our government assures the House that wherever the commission has named any specific individuals as needing further examination or specific cases needing re-opening and re-examination, the government will take all possible steps to do so within the ambit of law,” he said, adding “this is a solemn promise and a solemn commitment to this House.”

The most important issue is the need to rehabilitate the families of those affected by that “national tragedy”, the Prime Minister said.

“Twenty years after the events, it may be considered late in the day to be saying this. However, if there has been any shortcoming in this regard, it is our solemn assurance that we will make sincere efforts to redress these shortcomings,” he said.

“We will try to ensure that widows and children of those who suffered in this tragedy are enabled to lead a life of dignity and self-respect. It will be our honest attempt to wipe out tears from every suffering eye,” he said.

Describing the 1984 incidents as a “national shame, a great human tragedy”, he appealed to political parties not to politicise a human tragedy.

The Prime Minister said it was hoped that various commissions of inquiry would be able to establish beyond any shadow of doubt as to who were really to be blamed for the violence and rioting that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

“Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Fingers had been pointed at individuals, but seldom has there been proof beyond any shadow of doubt in the report of the inquiry commissions. Consequently, the search for truth has to continue,” he said.

Maintaining that the Justice Nanavati Commission of Inquiry was only the latest attempt in this direction, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “As in the case of some of the previous commissions, doubts still remain and I acknowledge them”.

Stating that most government officials and police officials who have been examined by the Commission for their role have retired from the government, he said action against some of them was taken then and subsequently as well.

“Many have since retired and it is not possible normally to act against them after such a long gap of 20 years. Nevertheless, our government will consult the Law Ministry to bring the guilty to book to the maximum extent possible,” Dr Manmohan Singh said.

The Prime Minister said: “There is absolutely no evidence that Rajiv Gandhi or any other high ranking Congress (I) leader had suggested or organised attacks on the Sikhs.”

The Nanavati Commission had ‘’finally nailed the lie and the canard’’ on the involvement of Congress leaders, he said.

‘’This Commission has unambiguously, categorically’’ belied the ‘’whispering campaigns’’ that had been going on for 21 years, he maintained.

In the case of others, he said, the Commission has said “that it is probable that they may have some involvement in some of the incidents and that there is evidence to this effect.”

“The Commission is in itself not certain, however, of the role of these individuals. As the Action Taken Report (ATR) says government cannot act when the Commission itself is uncertain....”, he said.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the subsequent “ghastly” incidents were a “blot” on the nation.

Regretting that the debate had proceeded on “narrow, partisan” lines, he appealed to the Akali Dal not to drive a wedge between the Sikh community and the national mainstream.

He said while the Akali Dal could criticise the Congress party in this era of “competitive politics”, “it would be a sin against our nation if you sow the seeds of discontent among the Sikh youths”.

The Prime Minister emphasised that nothing should be said or done which would result in the ugly face of terrorism surfacing again in Punjab.

Recalling the days of partition, he said the Sikhs suffered the most,” that trauma still haunts me.”

He, however, said the Sikh community did not allow the trauma to depress them and helped create a new Punjab.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil winding up the debate assured the Lok Sabha that ‘’all the recommendations’’ of the Nanavati Commission on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots would be implemented by the government ‘’as it is.’’

‘’The government will discharge its responsibilities to keep this country united,’’ Home Minister Shivraj Patil said.

Mr Patil appealed to the living members of the victim’s families not to divide the country in the name of political parties or religion and work to maintain unity.

‘’Whatever recommendations that the Nanavati Commission had made, we will implement them,’’ Mr Patil said, but did not make any specific reference to the demand for the removal of Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) Minister Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, MP, whose names reportedly figured in the Nanavati Commission report. Nor did he make any assurance in this regard.

Mr Patil asked the Opposition if they were sure about some individual’s involvement in the case, why was it that they did not move the court when the BJP-led NDA government was in power for six years.

Noting that the Commission had 10 recommendations, he said the government had already announced it was implementing nine of them.


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