Bengaluru: 35 years after one of the most heinous crimes against humanity – the anti-Sikh riots – former PM Manmohan Singh has made a revelation that the riots could have been averted. 

The incident he revealed relates to two former PMs IK Gujral and PV Narasimha Rao. However, during the riots, IK Gujral was the information and Broadcasting minister while Narasimha Rao was the home minister. 

Manmohan Singh said, "When the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujral ji that very evening went to the then Home Minister Narasimha Rao and said to him that the situation is so grim that it is necessary for the government to call the army at the earliest. If that advice would have been heeded perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided".

He further added, “He was the minister of Information and Broadcasting and he had problems with some aspects of the management of emergency and then he was removed to the planning commission as minister of state. I was then an economic advisor with the ministry of finance... Thereafter our relationship grew.” 

Narendra Taneja, a BJP spokesperson says, “The Congress mishandled the whole thing. They were involved in it as well. Their Delhi leaders also participated in it. It is too late a confession. The riots were against the spirit of India. The damage has already been done. What is worrying is that Congress has not changed. They still believe in ‘divide and rule’ policy.” 

The anti-Sikh riots 

It all began with the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Her own Sikh bodyguards turned out to be her murderers.  However, the vengeance with which the violence ensued against the Sikhs was not the way to retaliate.

The anti-Sikh riots erupted the very next day after Gandhi’s death. In Delhi alone, there are estimates that 3000 Sikhs were butchered while another 8000 to 17000 Sikhs were killed in 40 cities spreading all over India.

If those were the numbers related to deaths, the numbers related to the displacement of Sikhs stand at a whopping 50000! Such was the disdainfulness of the perpetrators that they carried kerosene, knives, clubs and even iron rods to unleash violence.