Dewas (MP): Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Thursday blamed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying he held back the Army, and sought an apology from the Gandhi family.
Badal, a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a BJP ally, said the anti-Sikh riots which took place in the aftermath of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination were a blot on the country's history.
"The 1984 massacre of Sikhs is a blot in the history of mother India and for this Rajiv Gandhi was responsible. "He held back the Army. And for this, the Gandhi family should apologise, she told reporters after inaugurating a food processing park here in Madhya Pradesh.
Badal, who holds the food processing portfolio, was reacting to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs suggestion that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots could have been avoided if the then home minister PV Narasimha Rao had heeded the suggestion of calling in the Army.
Speaking at an event on Wednesday to commemorate former prime minister IK Gujral, Singh had said Gujral had told Rao to bring in the Army to contain the raging anti-Sikh violence after Indira Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.
"When the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujralji on that very sad evening, he went to then home minister PV Narasimha Rao and said to him that the situation is so grave that it is necessary for the government to call in the Army at the earliest.
"If that advice had been heeded, perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided," Singh had said.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday said he was "deeply pained and disappointed" with Singh's comments on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and alleged it was "a shocking attempt to shift blame" from Rajiv Gandhi.
In a statement in Chandigarh, he said "Relevant government records clearly show that the decision against Army deployment was taken at a meeting held at the residence of Rajiv Gandhi."
Union minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar also blamed Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded Indira Gandhi as the prime minister that very night, for the riots, saying the PM has the right to order Army deployment in such a situation.