New Delhi, Aug 26: Both the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for claiming that the Congress party was not involved in 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The 1984 riots, that claimed over 3,000 Sikh lives, were triggered immediately after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards.
Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to the UK, had told an audience of UK-based parliamentarians and local leaders in London on Friday that the incident was a "very painful tragedy", but disagreed with the view that the Congress was involved.
"Rahul Gandhi's statement that Congress had no role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots is wrong. That is why I have challenged him for an open debate about Congress' and his father Rajiv Gandhi's involvement. The massacre was organised by Congress on directions of Rajiv Gandhi," noted advocate and AAP leader HS Phoolka told news agency ANI today (August 26).
On Saturday (August 25), SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal lashed out at Rahul and said the Congress president was trying to protect his party leaders involved in the "genocide".
"Rahul Gandhi has rubbed salt into the wounds of Sikh 'quom' (community) by saying that Congress was not involved in 1984 anti-Sikh riots," Badal was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Badal had said he wanted to ask Rahul Gandhi that if Congress leaders were not involved in the riots why the party withdrew election nominations to party leaders HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar.
"Why was Jagdish Tytler removed from the ministry in the Manmohan Singh-led government," he said, pointing out that Singh had also apologised for the riots.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, however, defended Rahul, saying the Congress, as a party, was never involved in the carnage. He also asserted that 'whosoever was involved' in the senseless killings in 1984 should be "hanged".
Castigating SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh said the Congress chief was in school when Operation Bluestar and later the riots took place. To blame him for 'anything' was totally absurd, said Amarinder Singh, in a hard-hitting statement issued.