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Two Akali Dal youth leaders were arrested for blackening a bust of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Ludhiana to protest against his alleged complicity in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. On Wednesday, riot victims vandalised a Rajiv Chowk sign board in New Delhi.

ThePrint asks: Akalis deface Rajiv Gandhi statue: Poll ploy or revival of call for justice post-Sajjan case?

Akalis are on a sticky wicket, and want to become the champions of Sikh causes

Jaswinder Singh Bhatia
Chairman, 1984 Sikh Katleaam Welfare Society

Whatever Shiromani Akali Dal is now saying or doing — demanding the revocation of Bharat Ratna bestowed upon former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi or vandalising his statue in Ludhiana — is just another attempt to play vote bank politics in the name of the victims of the 1984 genocide. The Akalis are on a sticky wicket politically, and want to reinvent themselves by becoming the champions of Sikh causes.

I distinctly recall at least three instances where the Akalis were in power in Punjab and yet opposed the demands of the victims. When a case regarding the demand for implementation of the policy of allotting LIG and MIG houses to the victims was heard in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Prakash Singh Badal government opposed it.

On another occasion, Badal agreed to our demand for giving electricity connections to the victims who were living in small houses in Mohali. But it was never implemented. The Punjab government also allotted the worst located plots under its urban development scheme to the victims. And the victims did not even get the 20% discount on the market rate of these plots as promised.

The Congress has always supported the killers of Sikhs, we do not expect anything from them. What did Manmohan Singh do for 10 years to give justice to the Sikhs? That was the time for Congress to do something.

We have asked Congress party workers to stay calm and not react

Ravneet Singh Bittu
Congress Member Parliament, Ludhiana

Vandalising the statue of Rajiv Gandhi only shows how low the Akalis can stoop to gain political attention. Nobody is going to buy this theory that the two persons who vandalised the statue were family members of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It is a well-known fact that they are senior office-bearers of the Youth Akali Dal.

After the indictment of the Akalis and the Badals in the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, they are a discredited lot. This is an act of frustration, the Akalis want to latch onto an issue and regain lost ground. But the people of Punjab, specially the Sikhs, know that the Akalis have lost their face completely.

What kind of bravery is it to blacken the face of a bust or a statue? Show courage by blackening the faces of those who are responsible for the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in 2015.

This is a bid to jeopardize the hard earned peace in Punjab. The Akalis know that such acts do not happen in isolation but are part of larger game plan. We have asked our party workers, especially the youth, to stay calm and not react.

The issue of justice to the families of the 1984 riot victims is important. But the process of justice has to run in the courts and not on the streets. The final stages of justice have been reached and convictions have begun.

This is a reminder of the wrongs that Gandhi family heaped upon the Sikhs

Parambans Romana
National Spokesperson, Shiromani Akali Dal

Nobody is denying that the two people who blacked the face of Rajiv Gandhi are connected to the Shiromani Akali Dal but what they did was not because they are members of a political party but because of the deep seated and lingering sense of injustice that every Sikh carries about the 1984 Sikh genocide.

This is a reminder of the wrongs that the Gandhi family has heaped upon the Sikhs over the years. Rajiv Gandhi almost admitted to the fact that the 1984 Sikh genocide was a state-sponsored operation. He said that he was aware of the pain and that the ground shakes after a big tree falls.

It has been more than 34 years and yet Congress has blatantly and shamelessly not just defended the culprits but also showered them with high posts and ministerial berths. About 8000 Sikhs were brutally killed in a matter of few days in one of the most systematic genocide and nobody pays for it? What can be more unfair than that?

Lakhs of Sikhs feel helpless and ashamed for not being able to do anything about the injustice meted out to their community.

Communal politics and mob-lynching are Rajiv Gandhi’s contribution to this country

Jarnail Singh
AAP leader and former MLA

The Akalis stand to gain nothing by indulging in such acts if they are not going to do anything substantial for the Sikh victims. Instead of wasting their energy on such meaningless acts of blackening faces of busts, they should use the clout in the NDA and get the 232 cases against the accused reopened.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Rajiv Gandhi was responsible for the 1984 genocide and he justified it too. He blatantly supported the accused Congress leaders like HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler. The Sajjan Kumar verdict even mentions this political patronage. The Nanavati Commission also points out clearly that the state was involved in the genocide. Just because Rajiv Gandhi had a chocolaty face and was soft-spoken does not make him any less an accused.

When the Congress in Punjab says that the Badals were responsible for the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, why not acting against those responsible? By the same logic, Rajiv Gandhi should have been an accused in the genocide.

Rajiv Gandhi was the first to have divided the country on communal lines and the 1984 genocide was nothing but mass mob lynching. Communal politics and mob-lynching are his contribution to this country.

Compiled by Chitleen K. Sethi, Associate Editor at ThePrint.

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