- "Whoever committed violence, they should be punished," Rahul Gandhi said
- Sam Pitroda's remark triggered criticism from several political parties
- PM said it showed the Congress's "character and mentality"
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today reiterated his disapproval of comments made by Sam Pitroda about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Mr Gandhi, in conversation with NDTV's Ravish Kumar after an election rally, said Mr Pitroda was wrong to make those remarks.
Speaking to ANI news agency on Thursday, Mr Pitroda seemed to say that the bloody riots that claimed nearly 3,000 lives in the aftermath of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination were not worth discussing now.
Mr Gandhi said, "Sam Pitroda was wrong to say what he did. I told him that you cannot say things like this. There is no debate on the 1984 tragedy. Whoever committed violence, they should be 100 per cent punished".
Earlier, Mr Pitroda had used the words: "hua toh hua (whatever happened, happened)" when referring to the riots, drawing sharp criticism from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said it showed the Congress party's "character and mentality".
"Congress, which ruled for a long time, has been insensitive and that is reflected by the three words spoken yesterday...these words have not been spoken just like that, these words are character and mentality and intentions of the Congress", the PM said during an election rally in Rohtak.
Mr Pitroda subsequently apologised for his comments, saying that what he had actually meant to say was that it was "time to move on".
"What I meant was move on. We have other issues to discuss as to what the BJP government did and what it delivered. I feel sorry that my remark was misrepresented, I apologise. This has been blown out of proportion", he told news agency ANI.
Mr Gandhi's comments today reflect those made immediately after Mr Pitroda's remarks. At that time, the party chief wrote on Facebook and said the remarks were "absolutely and completely out of line".
"What Mr Sam Pitroda has said is absolutely and completely out of line and is not appreciated. I will be communicating this to him directly. He must apologise for his comment," he said, describing the riots as a "terrible tragedy".