New Delhi/Amritsar, April 21 IANS | 7 months ago

Scores of Sikhs protested outside the Congress office in New Delhi Monday over former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh's alleged clean chit to party leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Amarinder denied giving anyone a "clean chit".

Police used water cannons to disperse the protestors, mostly Shiromani Akali Dal supporters, who had gathered near the Congress office. About 70 of them were detained and taken to the Tughlaq Road police station. They were let off later.

"We will meet the Election Commission and complain about Amarinder Singh's remark. We are protesting here because the Congress was responsible for the 1984 riots," said Shiromani Akali Dal's Delhi unit chief Manjit Singh G.K., terming the statement "atrocious" and "shocking".

"Sonia and Rahul (Gandhi) are responsible for giving Amarinder ticket from Amritsar and now he has given clean chit to Jagdish Tytler," he added.

Amarinder Singh, Congress candidate from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, told television news channel NDTV in an interview that Tytler's name in the 1984 riots came up only when he was fighting Bharatiya Janata Party's Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi's polls.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who is contesting against Amarinder Singh from the Amritsar as the BJP-Akali Dal candidate, Monday questioned his rival on his clean chit to Tytler.

"It is for the investigating and judicial process to find out the truth. Why has Capt. Amarinder Singh become the 'Devil's Advcate' and decided to offer a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler? Is he trying to prejudge the guilt of a person who is perceived to be involved in the riots? Is personal and political relationship more important to the Captain than the interest of the victims?" said Jaitley in his blog.

"The fact that innocents can be killed in thousands is terrible. What is worse is that the guilty went unpunished. The collusion of the state was visible. None of the rioters were fired upon by police. For years, FIRs were not registered. The violence was politically rationalised by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi," he said.

Defending himself on the Tytler remarks, Amarinder Singh said in Amritsar that he had not given a clean chit to the Congress leader.

"I am nobody to give clean chit to anyone, including Jagdish Tytler, as it is for the courts to decide."

"I had only stated what I had heard from the people immediately after the riots broke out in New Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984."

Describing the riots as "most tragic and gruesome", Amarinder Singh said he had gone around many camps of Sikh refugees in Delhi for four days when riots broke out but nobody had mentioned Tytler's name during the visit.

"It is not for the first time I have said so. I have been saying it for the past 30 years, but why is it now that Akalis and BJP have woken up and decided to protest?" he asked.

"... for the obvious reason that they want to polarise people for petty political benefit as they are badly losing across Punjab, Amritsar in particular," he said.

He said he was in favour of exemplary punishment for those behind the riots.

Hundreds of Sikhs were killed in riots in Delhi and other places following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards at her official residence.

(Posted on 21-04-2014)

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