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‘PV Narasimha Rao Could Have Avoided 1984 Riots’: Manmohan Singh

During his stint as the PM too, Manmohan Singh had apologised for the 1984 riots.

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Then Home Minister Narasimha Rao could have prevented the riots of 1984 had he acted upon Inder Kumar Gujral's advice, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday, 4 December.

Speaking at an event commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of former PM Gujral, Singh said, “When the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujral ji that very evening went to the then Home Minister Narsimha Rao and said to him that the situation is so grim that it is necessary for the government to call the army at the earliest. If that advice would have been heeded, perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided.”

Singh also spoke as to how his relationship with the former prime minister grew, after the emergency period, news agency ANI reported.
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"He was the minister of Information and Broadcasting and he had problems with some aspects of the management of Emergency and then he was removed to the Planning Commission as minister of state. I was then an economic advisor with the ministry of finance... Thereafter our relationship grew,” Singh said.

Gujral's son and Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral complimented Singh for being "truthful".

"I admire and compliment Manmohan Singh for being truthful and calling a spade a spade," he told PTI.

‘Saddened, Unacceptable’: Rao’s Grandson

Speaking to news agency ANI, Rao’s grandson NV Subash said Singh’s statement was “unacceptable”.

“As a family member, I am feeling saddened by this statement by Dr Manmohan Singh, it's unacceptable. Can any home minister take an independent decision without Cabinet's approval? If army had been called, it would have been a disaster,” he said.

However, reacting to the former PM's statement, senior SC advocate HS Phoolka tweeted supporting his version.

In a series of tweets, Phoolka, who has fought many of the 1984 riot-related cases, said that the Misra Commission too had said 2,000 lives could have been saved had Army been called.

In his tweets, he also held the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi responsible, saying only the PM can overrule the home minister if he/she decides to call the Army.

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Javadekar Hits out at Manmohan Singh

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday lashed out at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his comment, IANS reported.

“Manmohan ji, ordering the Army to tackle any issue is the prime minister’s prerogative and Rajeev Gandhi was the PM at the time. But truth is, Gandhi supported the massacre in open daylight. He had said that whenever a big tree falls, the earth shakes. These were his words of support”
Prakash Javadekar

On Thursday, Javadekar questioned Singh why he went on to become a finance minister in a Cabinet headed by Rao, if he had such adverse feelings about the man. He said the statement by Singh is acceptance that the riots took place because of Congress' fault, according to IANS.

‘Shocking Attempt to Shift Blame from Rajiv Gandhi’

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday said he was "deeply pained and disappointed" with Manmohan Singh's comments and alleged that it was "a shocking attempt to shift blame" from then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, PTI reported.

“Relevant government records clearly show that the decision against Army deployment was taken at a meeting held at the residence of Rajiv Gandhi." Singh's claim is "neither true nor appropriate", Badal said.

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"It is shocking because it comes from Manmohan Singh whom we have always genuinely respected. It is inappropriate and indecorous as it involves two former prime ministers, PV Narasimha Rao and IK Gujral, neither of whom is alive to respond to this claim. It is intriguing why Singh kept quiet on this all those years when Rao and Gujral were around to confirm or deny this claim," he said, according to PTI.

The SAD leader said Singh's "statement, however, clearly vindicates our stand that the independent India's worst and most tragic massacre could easily have been averted had then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi allowed the Army to be called in time to deal with a crisis of unimaginable and unprecedented magnitude".

Manmohan’s 1984 Apology as PM

A little more than a year into his stint as the prime minister, Manmohan Singh had apologised for the pogrom of 1984, saying it negated the “concept of nationhood”.

“I have no hesitation in apologising to the Sikh community. I apologise not only to the Sikh community, but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our Constitution,” he had said.

"On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of this country I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place," he had also said on 11 August, 2005.

(With inputs from ANI and IANS.)

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