GHOSTS of the 1984 Sikh riots are still haunting the Congress party, with the casually-made remarks by Mr. Sam Pitroda, described to be Guru of Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi, about the unholy massacre that rocked not just New Delhi in the shadow of Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination but the whole nation. Naturally, every Sikh is eternally hurt by the unprecedented violence unleashed by goons to avenge the killing of Mrs. Gandhi. Naturally, therefore, strong reactions came from the Congress camp as Mr. Pitroda tried to wave off the riots as something not worth mention. So bad was the political impact of the remarks that even Mr. Rahul Gandhi said that Mr. Pitroda should apologise to the nation for making a casual statement. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also condemned Mr. Pitroda for the undesirable remarks.
The country passed through terrible moments when two of her guards killed Mrs. Indira Gandhi right in the premises of her own official residence. That they happened to be Sikhs was good enough for goons led by some Congress leaders to unleash terror and horror on Sikh people in the national capital and elsewhere, in the process killing more than 3,000 Sikh persons of all ages only in Delhi. The figures elsewhere only added to the horror of the bloody episode of vengeance. Unfortunately, the legal and judicial processes that sought to pin the blame of the anti-Sikh riots dragged on for decades, in the process making people suspect the integrity of the system of justice in the country as well as the commitment of the Government to ensuring justice.
Inflamed feelings of the Sikhs were assuaged somewhat when Dr. Manmohan Singh became the country’s first Sikh Prime Minister. But despite that, actual blame took a long time to be pinned on the culprits, in the process making the Sikh angrier. Even now, details are still trickling out about how the riots took place and who masterminded those. According to a detail -- offered recently by somebody who knew the inside facts -- instructions about unleashing terror on the Sikh people came from the then Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). If this detail has even a grain of substance, then it must shock the whole nation.
For, it shows how vengeance overtook good sense and how thousands of Sikh people were massacred in the post-assassination riots. The emotional impact of the anti-Sikh riots on the nation was disastrous, to say the least. What made it worse was the attempts of the Congress party to shield its leaders who were accused of instigated the riots when every evidence went against them. Eventually, the courts also accepted the charges and sentenced punishment to Congress leaders. No matter the delay, justice was delivered finally, thus calming the frayed sentiments at least to some extent. No matter all that, the ghosts of the anti-Sikh riots are still haunting the Congress party, as was proved by the manner in which Mr. Sam Pitroda tried to dismiss those. His attempts proved churlish and invited strong reactions from all over the socio-political spectrum. Eventually, Mr. Pitroda would back down, say “sorry” and try to calm down the trouble. No matter that, the party will keep paying a heavy price for the anti-Sikh riots.