In a display of complete lack of empathy and accountability, Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Germany on Friday failed to recognize the involvement of the Congress party in the 1984 genocide which claimed thousands and thousands of Sikh lives across the country. Responding to a question posed by a CNN-NEWS18 journalist about the involvement of Congress in 1984 Sikh genocide, Rahul Gandhi 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. Certainly, there was violence, there was tragedy.”
Since Rahul Gandhi has conveniently forgotten the bloody history of his party, it is imperative that he is made aware of the atrocities faced by Sikhs in 1984. On the morning of October 31st 1984, the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi was fatally shot by two of her bodyguards, who happen to be Sikhs. In the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi targeted killings of Sikhs across the country and especially around the now NCR region ensued.
The killings started on the night of November 1 and went on for three days. Rajiv Gandhi famously gave a statement which instead of condemning the actions of the violent mobs, encouraged it. Senior advocate H.S. Phoolka released the video of the statement after 31 years of the incident, Phoolka spearheaded the legal battle in support of the victims.
Rahul Gandhi comment absolves the Indian National Congress of any responsibility for this heinous crime against Sikhs. This is outrageous if we compare the findings of the various commissions and countless eyewitness accounts of what had actually happened during those three days.
The Nanavati Commission recorded the testimony of a witness namely, Jasbir Singh who stated that on 03-11-84, he was passing by the TB hospital gated after taking dinner at the house of Sucha Singh situated at Outram lane he had seen Jagdish Tytler coming there in a car. Sing furthered that he heard Tytler “rebuked the persons who were standing there that his instructions were not faithfully carried out and therefore his position was greatly compromised and lowered in the eyes of the central leaders. He has alleged to have further stated that there was only nominal killing in his constituency compared to East Delhi, Outer Delhi, Cant. etc. and it would be difficult for him to stake a claim in future as he has promised large-scale killing of Sikhs. He had complained to those persons that they had betrayed him and let him down.”
This is not the only time the name Jagdish Tytler is mentioned in the eyewitness accounts of the Nanavati commission’s report. It is important to note, Jagdish Tytler was given subsequent tickets to contest election by the Indian National Congress and also made Union Minister of Civil Aviation first and then labour department.
He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980. He was again re-elected in 1991 when he was made the Minister of State of Surface Transportation. He again contested in 2004 and won, all these while allegations of his involvement in the massacre of 1984 was a matter of public debate. The Congress party continuously gave him and other accused such as Sajjan Kumar, R.K. Anand tickets to contest elections. It was only after a shoe was hurled towards P. Chidambaram on 7th April 2009, the Congress party dropped Tytler from the candidate’s list in 2009. Tytler continues to be in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) which is the highest governing body of the Indian National Congress.
The Nanavati commission also stated – “As stated by Shri Gurbachan Singh (Witness -137) involvement of Shri Jagdish Tytler was also disclosed by the affected persons to the ‘Citizens Commission’ during the inquiry which it had made within a short time after the riots. That inquiry was made by eminent persons of unquestionable integrity.
Shri Govind Narain (Witness-150) who had assisted the Citizens Committee, whose Chairman was Mr Justice Sikri, has also stated that witnesses had told the Committee about participation by Shri H.K.L.Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler in the anti-Sikh riots. Relying upon all this material, the Commission considers it safe to record a finding that there is credible evidence against Shri Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organizing attacks on Sikhs. The Commission, therefore, recommends to the Government to look into this aspect and take further action as may be found necessary.”
This report was submitted in 2005 which means after a formal commission of inquiry stating that there is “credible evidence” against Tytler and he “very probably” had a hand in organizing the attacks on Sikhs, the Congress party went ahead with giving him a ticket to contest elections in 2009.
Here is a video posted by Manjit Singh GK, the President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and Delhi State President of Shiromani Akali Dal- Badal. In this video, Tytler can be seen casually talking about killing 100’s of Sikhs in 1984 riots.
Not only Tytler, Sajjan Kumar also is accused of being complicit in the killings of 1984. The CBI prosecutor for the case against Sajjan Kumar and five others, R.S. Cheema in his final arguments, stated:
“There was a conspiracy of terrifying proportion with the complicity of police and patronage of local MP Sajjan Kumar,” The prosecutor furthered by arguing that Sajjan Kumar instigated by telling a crowd that “not a single Sikh should survive”. Sajjan Kumar is a former MP and a councillor of the INC. The case and evidence are more concrete and his name has come up regularly in almost every inquiry commission in 1984″.
A key witness namely Kaur, identified five accused, including Sajjan Kumar who are facing the trial for the killings of six people in Delhi Cantt area during the riots. She also stated at that point in time, that she came to know of the “collusion” between police officials and the accused during the trial which led to the initial acquittal of the accused in the murder of her father Nirmal Singh who ran a transport service.
The police at that point in time were under the administrative control of the central UPA government. The police’s role can be best described as non-existent. As the Indian express journalist Joseph Maliakan reported that when he approached the Block 32 in Trilokapuri, where more than 400 Sikhs have been killed and burned, he was appalled and wanted to help the victims. That is why he along with his colleagues went to the Police Commissioner’s office and what happened next is very telling of the role of the police in the 84 massacre. Maliakan writes:
“In spite of our accounts of the Trilokpuri massacre, the commissioner maintained absolute peace prevailed in Delhi. On our request, however, commissioner Tandon agreed to visit Trilokpuri. Rahul and I followed in our car. However, instead of turning right for Trilokpuri after crossing the ITO bridge, Tandon turned left and disappeared. Even the commissioner, obviously, was avoiding trouble spots and in no hurry to stop the killings.”
“Around 8 pm, deputy commissioner of East Delhi Sewa Dass arrived. I urged him to send the injured to the hospital in his vehicle. He obliged and left promising to arrange vehicles for survivors. I took a few steps into a narrow lane in Block 32 and was horrified to see a huge bonfire of bodies. It dawned on me only later that the police were in Trilokpuri in the afternoon to ensure that the bodies of those killed were burnt so that no evidence was left. In fact, all over Delhi, the pattern was the same. The killings began in east, west, south, and north almost simultaneously on the first evening and continued till the third. Everywhere the bodies were disposed of by burning.”
According to him, the massacre was planned meticulously and executed with military precision. The mobs were armed with weapons, kerosene, petrol and other inflammable material. “They also had copies of the voter’s list to identify Sikh homes. The involvement of Congressmen in power in organizing the mass murders was very evident. Also evident was the connivance of Delhi police.”
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also formally apologized for the massacre of 1984 in 2005. He stated-
“I have no hesitation in apologizing to the Sikh community. I apologize not only to the Sikh community but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our Constitution,”
Which was later reciprocated by the then Congress party president Sonia Gandhi. In fact, when Rahul Gandhi was interviewed by Arnab Goswami, he had also admitted that ‘some Congressmen were involved’.
This is not the first time, in 2014 Rahul displayed similar ignorance about his own party’s history and a complete lack of accountability when he hesitated to apologize for 1984 riots. He subsequently did a reverse and rectified by saying that he shares the then Prime Minister of the UPA and the president of the Congress party has expressed regrets and he shares their sentiments.
This statement by Rahul Gandhi is nothing but an insult to the victims of the 1984 massacre, who lost their loved ones to politically patronized killings.