SAD’s Naresh Gujral differs from party, backs Manmohan Singh on 1984 remark

NEW DELHI: Senior Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral today backed Congress veteran Manmohan Singh for his remarks that the 1984 Sikh massacre could have been averted had then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao heeded late Prime Minister IK Gujral’s advice to call in the Army immediately after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

SAD’s Naresh Gujral differs from party, backs Manmohan Singh on 1984 remark

Naresh Gujral

editorial@tribune.com

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5

Senior Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral today backed Congress veteran Manmohan Singh for his remarks that the 1984 Sikh massacre could have been averted had then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao heeded late Prime Minister IK Gujral’s advice to call in the Army immediately after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

While the BJP and Akali Dal attacked Singh for the statement made on Wednesday saying he was trying to absolve Rajiv Gandhi of his role in the massacre, MP Gujral hailed the former PMfor “speaking the truth”.

Gujral also said there was a “mystery around the level at which the conspiracy to kill the Sikhs was hatched in the Congress”.

“I compliment Dr Manmohan Singh for honestly accepting the truth that then Home Minister Rao and the Congress government of the day were at fault and that the tragedy of 1984 carnage could have been averted had IK Gurjal’s advice been heeded. Rao shirked his responsibility as Home Minister. Otherwise the 1984 Sikh killings would have been 100 per cent averted. Eventually, the killings stopped only after the Army was called in,” Naresh Gujral, son of late PM IK Gujral, said today.

The Rajya Sabha MP said his father accompanied by late Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh and late Kuldip Nayar went to meet President Giani Zail Singh on October 31, 1984, soon after the violence against Sikhs broke out in the capital and urged the President to call in the Army.

“The President told them that he was unable to reach then PM Rajiv Gandhi. Thereafter, Mr Gujral and others drove to the residence of then Home Minister Rao and told him that the violence could escalate unless the Army was called in. Rao assured them of action, but when no orders were passed until 3 pm that day, Mr Gujral and others again went to see Rao, who was sleeping. They got him to wake up, but he remained non-committal. By then things had gone out of control,” said Gujral.

Terming 1984 killings a “carnage and not a riot”, Gujral said top Congress leaders were involved in mass killings. He, however, added that he didn’t know the level at which the conspiracy to kill the Sikhs was hatched in the Congress.

Gujral’s remarks came when the BJP and Akali Dal directly attacked late PM Rajiv Gandhi for not letting the Army come in to stop the Sikh killings.

“There is a mystery around the level at which the 1984 carnage conspiracy was hatched. It is difficult for me to say. Of course, then Home Minister must have been under orders from someone. There was a game plan to massacre the Sikhs and play the Sikh card to win elections and the Congress succeeded in that,” Gujral said even as SAD spokesperson Manjinder Singh Sirsa alleged, “Rao deliberately ignored IK Gujral’s advice because he had orders from Rajiv Gandhi to ensure maximum killings of Sikhs.”

Naresh Gujral also said today that the Sikhs were edgy even after Rajiv’s assassination. “Even when Rajiv was assassinated, my father got calls from anxious Sikhs who were wary of the repercussions because nothing was known of the late PM’s killers till then. Mr Gujral immediately spoke to then PM Chandrashekhar who called in the paramilitary and stationed the forces across the capital to avert potential violence,” Gujral said.

He lamented that 35 years after the carnage, victims had not had closure.

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