- BJP claimed Nanavati Commission probe blamed Rajiv Gandhi
- Report, however, said otherwise; he showed much concern, it said
- BJP has stepped up attacks on former PM assassinated in 1991
The BJP on Thursday said it was "on record" that the Nanavati Commission into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots had found "instructions to kill came directly from then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's office", a claim that is contradicted by the panel's report. Nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots in New Delhi following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards on 31st October 1984.
"It's on record of Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the biggest genocide of India in which the government killed its own citizens, that instructions to kill came directly from the then PM Rajiv Gandhi's office. The country awaits justice for this karma," the BJP tweeted this morning.
The sensational claim is the latest attack on Rajiv Gandhi - the father of Congress president Rahul Gandhi - by the BJP ahead of the last two phases of the ongoing national election. Punjab votes on May 19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi started it with his comment that Rajiv Gandhi died as "Bhrashtachari (corrupt) No. 1". Last evening, at a rally in Delhi, he accused the former prime minister of misusing a Navy ship, INS Viraat, for a family vacation. Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by a Tamil Tigers suicide bomber in 1991, was cleared by a court of any wrongdoing in the Bofors artillery gun deal that PM Modi also referenced.
The BJP's latest allegation is not substantiated by the very source it cites. The 2005 report by the one-man commission headed by Justice GT Nanavati, a retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India, said that there is "absolutely no evidence" that Rajiv Gandhi had suggested or organised attacks on Sikhs.
"It was suggested that Shri Rajiv Gandhi had told one of his officials that Sikhs should be taught a lesson. The Commission finds no substance in that allegation. The evidence in this behalf is very vague... The evidence on the other hand suggest that Shri Rajiv Gandhi had showed much concern about what was happening in Delhi. He had issued an appeal for remaining calm and maintaining communal harmony. In view of the complaints received by him that people were not able to contact the police on telephone No. 100, he had immediately called some police officers and told them to take immediate action so that anyone who wanted to contact the police could do so. He had even visited the affected areas on the night of 1-11-84," the report read.
"There is absolutely no evidence suggesting that Shri Rajiv Gandhi or any other high ranking Congress(I) leader had suggested or organized attacks on Sikhs," it added.
The Congress too lashed out at the BJP for the claim. "Gentle reminder to Modi, this is the 2019 election, not 1951, not 1966 & not 1984. We dare you to fight on the real issues, do you have the guts?" the party tweeted with a hashtag that read in Hindi, "Modi is the biggest liar".
The 1984 riots have been frequently used by the BJP to attack the Congress amid elections which in turn has cites the Gujarat riots that took place in 2002 when PM Modi was the Chief Minister of the state. Nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in the three-day violence in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning.
Though the Nanavati Commission had cleared Rajiv Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders, it did find that local party were involved in the 1984 violence. "Whatever acts were done, were done by the local Congress (I) leaders and workers, and they appear to have done so for their personal political reasons," the report said.
Last December, former Congress parliamentarian Sajjan Kumar was jailed for life by the Delhi High Court for his role in the riots.