3,000 Sikhs wouldn’t have died if Gujral had been heeded: Manmohan

Manmohan Singh, IK Gujral, anti-Sikh riots
Noting that the country is standing at the historic cross-roads, he said the government's decisions and actions will have serious bearings on how the future generations perceive us. Photo: PTI.

Former prime minister and Congress leader Manmohan Singh has said that the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 which led to the massacre of thousands of Sikhs, could have been avoided if the then home minister Narsimha Rao had heeded to the advice of IK Gujral to call in the army to control the mob.

Singh made the statement at an event to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Gujral, who served as the 12th prime minister of India between 1997 and 1998, on Wednesday (December 4).

“When the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujral ji on that very sad evening went to the 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 the army at the earliest. If that advice would have been heeded perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided,” NDTV quoted Singh as saying.

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Singh apologised to the Sikh community for the riots that witnessed the killing of nearly 3,000 people, after the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

Singh also spoke about his relationship with Gujral after the Emergency period.

“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 adviser with the ministry of finance…Thereafter our relationship grew,” Singh reminisced at the event.

Singh’s statements, however, haven’t gone down well with the family of Rao, who have called them unacceptable.

“Can any home minister take independent decision without the cabinet’s approval? If Army had been called, it would have been a disaster,” NDTV quoted Rao’s grandson NV Subhash as saying.

(With inputs from agencies)

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