Indian Overseas Congress chief and Gandhi loyalist Sam Pitroda on Thursday made an absolutely appalling statement that brushes of the violent mass genocide of thousands of members of the Sikh community in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Speaking to media on the BJP's charge citing the Nanavati commission report that the instructions for the violence had come from then Rajiv Gandhi who had taken up the post of Prime Minister after his mother was killed, Pitroda angrily said, "I don't think so, this is also another lie, and what is with 1984? You speak about what happened in 5 years. It happened in 1984, so what? (1984 hua toh hua)"
Earlier in the day, the BJP had issued the following tweet, citing the Nanavati commission report:
"It’s on record of Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the biggest genocide of India in which the government killed its own citizens, that instructions to kill came directly from the then PM Rajiv Gandhi’s office. The country awaits justice for this karma."
The shocking statement comes at a time when the events that took place during Rajiv Gandhi's term as Prime Minister have become a national talking point - something that began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Bhrashtachar No. 1' reference to his predecessor while addressing a poll rally in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. Subsequently, in an open challenge to the Congress, PM Modi demanded the party contest the ongoing elections over Rajiv Gandhi's term as PM, citing the Bofors deal scam, 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
"Few days ago, I had called out the deeds of a member of the 'naamdar' family. These people (Congress) have been abusing the Prime Minister and his family. I only reminded about the earlier Bofors scam. I only said that and a tsunami came. Some people cried really hard over what I said. When you did not adhere to the limitations of the post of Prime Minister, you abused the post, I only said one thing - it stung you like a scorpion. The more these people will cry, the more people of this generation will become aware of their truths. How a family looted and destroyed the country in the 20th century, the youth of the 21st century should know," PM Modi said.
Ensuring justice for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has been a key endeavour of the Modi government. Towards the end of 2018, 34 years after the riots took place, the case saw its first convictions, and in December, in a landmark win for the victims, the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was reversed he was handed a life term for his role in the horrific violence. That leaders from the then-dominant Congress party were involved in the killings of an estimated over 3000 members (even more as per some estimates) of the Sikh community following the assassination of Indira Gandhi had been conceded by Rahul Gandhi in 2014 while speaking to Arnab Goswami. "Some Congress leaders were probably involved," the now Congress chief had said.
On the other hand, remarking on the riots in their immediate aftermath, Rajiv Gandhi had infamously said: "When a big tree falls, the Earth shakes."