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PM's Remarks On 1984 Riots Evoke Sharp Reactions

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
PM's remarks on 1984 riots evoke sharp reactions

Himanshi Dhawan, TNN, Jun 30, 2010, 02.08am IST
NEW DELHI: PM Manmohan Singh's remarks in Toronto that while the anti-Sikh riots should never have happened the Sikh community should "move on'' have met with sharp reactions back home with eminent persons from the community feeling that there ought to be a sense of justice over killings.

While the PM, speaking to the Indian diaspora in Toronto after paying homage to victims of the 1985 Kanishka bombing, might have had a Canadian audience in mind given some vocal Khalistani voices there, his comments have raised a few reactions in India.

Eminent citizens feel that victims and people who witnessed the 1984 riots continue to feel a sense of injustice and blame the Congress government for not doing enough to ameliorate their suffering.

Former police commissioner and Institute of Conflict Management president K P S Gill slammed the government saying, "If there is a policy of forgive and forget, then BJP can also apologise. Is then the Congress government willing to forget Gujarat (riots)? Then why are we going through the motions of the communal riot bill.'' Gill said that the PM's statement "smacked of hypocrisy''.

Advocate H S Phoolka -- responsible for pursuing court cases for Sikh victims pro bono and author of the `When a tree shook Delhi -- the 1984 carnage and its aftermath' -- reacted strongly to the PM's admission that India's legal system was flawed. "If the PM is admitting that the legal system is not working then he should take concrete steps to rectify it. The law of the land says that the guilty must be punished and yet we are being asked to forget. If civil society forgets, then such incidents will happen again,'' he said.

Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, however, felt that the PM had made a very positive statement. "We need to leave the unfortunate chapter behind us. This statement gives the much needed balm on the wounds of the Sikhs who are forced to live abroad because they had reacted to the developments in India,'' he said.

When asked if justice had been done in the aftermath of the riots, Tulsi was pragmatic, "Justice has not been done in any one of the riot cases in the last 50 years whether it is anti-Sikh or anti-Muslim riots. It is very difficult to pin down the role of a large mob and the world over riot conviction is very low. Even if Sikhs haven't got legal justice this is some political justice,'' he said.

Pushkar Raj from the People's Union of Civil Liberties said that political leaders resort to apologies on every particular occasion to mollify a constituency they feel is going away from them. "It is a shame that they have nothing to do except apologise. Why can't they set the judicial system right. The police and judicial system is rotten and the best that the PM can do is apologise? Indian politics is the victim of apologies,'' he added.

Former journalist Kuldip Nayar's response was more tempered. He felt that while the PM was right in saying that the unfortunate incident should not be dwelt upon, there was much that remained to be done. Nayar, who along with Justice Rajinder Sachar and Justice Kuldeep Singh is part of the Punjab Group that has been overseeing rehabilitation efforts, said, "Over 3,000 people were killed in just Delhi in broad daylight and none of the culprits have been punished. That really hurts. It would help if those who were guilty are punished.''

Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar was not impressed by the PM's statement. He said, "It may appear to be a good gesture but it doesn't put a balm to the unhealed wounds of Sikhs who want to see the persons responsible for the killing of innocent Sikhs behind bars. Why is the Congress still shielding the accused?''

Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, said Sikh living across the globe wanted to see the persons responsible for riots punished and "they won't get satisfaction merely by an apology time and again."

Harnam Singh Khalsa, chief of Sikhs' prominent seminary Damdami Taksal, also blasted PMs statement. "Unfortunately Congress leaders never seriously tried to feel the pain of the victims," he said.

source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/PMs-remarks-on-1984-riots-evoke-sharp-reactions/articleshow/6107881.cms


Apr 24, 2006
Harinder Singh of Sikh Research Institute (Sikhri) says something like this:
Riots implies that both sides are at fault, that both are on the offense. To describe what happened to Sikhs as riots is misrepresenting what actually happened! It was a Ghalukara which translates to Pogroms, not riots. Pogrom means an organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group.