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Punjab polls: AAP plays up 1984 anti-Sikh riots; targets SAD- BJP and Congress

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 3 November 2016, 20:04 IST

In poll-bound Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has upped the ante on the emotive issue of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The party leadership, particularly lawyer-turned-politician HS Phoolka who has been representing the victims in the courts, along with former journalist and Punjab co-incharge Jarnail Singh who had thrown a shoe at former Congress home minister P Chidambaram to protest the denial of justice to Sikh victims, are using the 32nd anniversary of the anti-Sikh riots to target not only the Congress, but also the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP for colluding to deny justice to the Sikhs.

Also read - Navjot Sidhu's dilly-dally adds to confusion in Punjab politics, BJP-SAD slam his 'self interest'

The main allegations

The top AAP leadership of the state had scheduled to sit on a daylong hunger strike on the issue on 3 November at a Gurudwara in Mohali to apprise the people of the politics being played by the Akalis, BJP and the Congress.

Phoolka has alleged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, in which SAD is an alliance partner, is trying to save Congress leader Jagdish Tytler and others who are among the key accused in 1984 anti-Sikhs riots.

He as said that for the last two years, the NDA Government is deliberately delaying the investigation in the case against the accused.

Phoolka alleges the Modi govt is trying to save Jagdish Tytler and few others who stand accused

"In December 2015, Supreme Court instructed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to complete the investigation within two months. But instead of acting on the instruction of apex court, the Modi government not only preferred to delay the investigation but rather demanded time for four more months recently," Phoolka said.

He has said that both BJP and SAD do not want to take the case against riots accused to its logical conclusion before the assembly elections.

Training his guns towards Congress President Captain Amarinder Singh, Phoolka said that to get himself declared as Congress' chief ministerial candidate in Punjab and to continue his post as the Congress chief, Amarinder has been busy distributing clean chits to key accused, including Tytler and Kamal Nath.

"Had the accused of 1984 riots been given exemplary punishment at an appropriate time, nobody could have dared to engineer such riots in any part of the country again which take place so often now. Because no one was punished for 1984, there have been repetitions in 1992 in Mumbai, 2002 in Gujarat and at several other places later, " Phoolka claimed.

AAP's demands

Earlier Jarnail Singh shot off a letter to Modi asking him to re-open all the cases related to 1984 genocide and investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by Centre on 12 February 2015.

Jarnail said that either SIT should re-investigate the cases over the next three months or the Centre should allow the AAP government in Delhi to constitute its SIT that was pre-empted by Modi last year and let it carry out the investigations.

Stating that the victims have failed to get justice even after 32 years and the culprits are roaming freely, Jarnail said that the SIT formed by Modi has proved to be totally ineffective, as it has failed to re-open a single case in two years whereas Modi had promised to re-open all cases in six months.

Jarnail has also sought a public apology from Amarinder for giving clean chit to the Tytler in the case.

Amarinder lashes out

Amarinder has also chosen to hit back over the repeated allegations over his giving a clean chit to Tytler.

He has reiterated, "Everybody knows that I had resigned both from the parliament as well as the Congress party after Operation Blue Star. When I went to Delhi after Indira Gandhi's assassination and toured various camps of riot victims, I asked them about the accused. No one in those camps named Tytler. They named five people including HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Lalit Maken, Arjun Das and Dharma Das Shastri. Tytler's named cropped up later during the parliamentary polls when Madan Lal Khurana leveled accusations at him. It is now for the court to decide whether he was involved or not."

He lashed out at the AAP and Akali leaderships for exploiting Sikh sentiments by raking up the 1984 riots issue with an eye on the forthcoming elections in the state.

"The Akalis have been ruling Punjab for nearly 10 years, and AAP has now been in power in Delhi for two years. But neither party even thought of the issue till this moment, when elections in Punjab are round the corner," he said.

Amarinder lashed out at AAP & Akali leaderships for exploiting Sikh sentiments with an eye on polls

Congress leaders say that the Akalis have a history of raising the issue only when elections are around the corner and immediately forgetting all about it the moment elections are over. Amarinder has said that AAP's track record in sensationalising events for promoting its vested interests needs no elaboration.

Amarinder has said that had Kejriwal's party been sincere in its intentions it would not have waited for the Punjab polls to take up the matter.

The Akalis have attacked Amarinder on the issue asking him his loyalties. Akali leader and Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa says: "Let Amarinder decide whether he is with the community or with its killers."

He said that Amarinder should take a position on the Sikhs' genocide. He can't silence the community under the pretext that Akalis are politicising the issue. If not the Akalis or to the Sikh's representative body in Delhi DSGMC, Amarinder must respond to the queries of ordinary Sikhs, Sirsa said.

Promoting Punjab

Besides playing up the 1984 anti Sikh riots, the AAP leadership is also going overboard trying to woo Punjabis on the issue of promoting Punjabi language.

Having decided to promote Punjabi language in the national capital and deciding to recruit a Punjabi teacher in every school, the AAP leadership is now asking Punjabis to apply for the 760 fresh posts of teachers that the Delhi government has advertised.

Jarnail said that people from Punjab could apply for these posts which will initially be that of guest teachers who would be regularized later. These teachers will get an initial salary of Rs 29,000. He said that AAP is committed to promoting Punjabi language and culture.

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First published: 3 November 2016, 20:04 IST