Manmohan Singh
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.IANS File

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Sikh massacre in 1984 could have been avoided if the then home minister, Narasimha Rao, had acted on the advice of Inder Kumar Gujral. Manmohan Singh, who played a significant role in opening up of the Indian economy in 1991, was speaking at an event organized to remember former Prime Minister IK Gujral on his 100th birth anniversary.

At the event, 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."

Later, Narasimha Rao went on to become the Prime Minister of India. Notably, Gujral was the 12th Prime Minister of India and held the office between a brief period of April 1997 and March 1998. He is credited for the 'Gujral Doctrine' that talked about five principles for maintaining good relations with India's neighbours.

What were Sikh riots that shook the nation in 1984?

The country witnessed a series of violent attacks against the Sikh community soon after former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards. Major allegations have been levelled against then ruling Congress, that the party and its leaders supported the organized attacks against Sikhs throughout the country.

As per estimates, around 8000-17,000 Sikhs were mercilessly massacred across the nation. Congress party leaders, including Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, were convicted for their role of instigating mobs in the riots. The Nanavati Commission, set up to investigate the riots, had also accused Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath of encouraging rioters.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing in the Government of India
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing in the Government of India

However, launching a sharp attack on Gandhi family, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal blamed former PM Rajiv Gandhi for the 1984 Sikh riots and argued that it was Rajiv Gandhi who held the Army. Moreover, the food processing minister also sought an apology from the Congress party.

She said, "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 apologize."