Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday hit out the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for attacking Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the issue of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He said that the Congress party was never involved in the carnage.
Lashing out at SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal's remarks that Rahul Gandhi's had 'rubbed salt into the wounds' of the Sikh community by denying his party's involvement in the genocide, Amarinder Singh said that the Congress president was in school when Operation Bluestar and later the riots took place.
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To blame him for 'anything' was totally absurd, said Amarinder Singh, in a hard-hitting statement issued in Chandigarh.
To hold Rahul Gandhi responsible for an act, of which he was not even aware when it happened, was completely ridiculous, said the chief minister.
"The Congress, as a party, was never involved in the riots that continue to haunt the Sikh community," the chief minister said.
Amarinder Singh said that if any individual was involved, he or she would be dealt with as per the law.
"To blame the entire party for the acts of a few was preposterous and typical of the political immaturity of Sukhbir," the chief minister said.
Amarinder Singh said "Rahul Gandhi's latest comments need to be seen in context with his earlier statements on the 1984 riots, wherein he himself had named some Congressmen".
"You cannot blame an entire party because of the acts of such individuals," said the chief minister reiterating that "whosoever was involved in the senseless killings in 1984 should be hanged, irrespective of political affiliations."
Reacting to Sukhbir Singh Badal's allegations that the Congress scion was trying to protect Congress leaders involved in the 'genocide', Amarinder Singh said that such thoughtless and superfluous statements were typical of the Akalis, particularly the Badals".
"It is evident that the Akalis obviously did not have either the maturity or the sensitivity to understand or appreciate the sentiment behind the regrets expressed by Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi on the issue. Their statements were never an admission of guilt or Congress party's involvement in the riots," said Amarinder Singh, emphasising there was no question of a volte face by Rahul Gandhi.
By attacking Rahul Gandhi, Sukhbir Singh Badal has only exposed his fear of the Congress president's growing popularity, in India and abroad, said Amarinder Singh.
The Punjab chief minister said Rahul Gandhi had unambiguously condemned all sorts of violence, including the 1984 riots, and had called for strict punishment to the perpetrators.
It is unfortunate that due to delays caused by the judicial system, justice was denied to many victims of the 1984 riots, he said.
The SAD on Saturday hit out at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on the 1984 riots, saying by disagreeing with the view that his party was involved in the "genocide", he had "rubbed salt into the wounds" of the Sikh community.
Earlier, describing the 1984 riots as a "very painful tragedy", Rahul Gandhi, who was on a two-day visit to the UK, had said, "It was a tragedy, it was a painful experience. You say that the Congress party was involved in that, I don't agree with that. Certainly there was violence, certainly there was tragedy."