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Government failed to protect people during 1984 riots: Sandeep Dikshit

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New Delhi:  As the long wait for justice over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots continues, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit feels that the government failed in maintaining law and order situation during the violence, in which thousands of people were killed.

The Congress has for long been blamed for the riots, which flared up in the wake of then prime minister Indira Gandhi being assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards.

However, in what appeared to be an admittance, Dikshit, son of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and former Lok Sabha MP, said on Wednesday that it was possibly the first time in independent India that the government failed in its duty to protect people.

“It was perhaps the first time that the pride of a state, the regality of a state, was sacrificed. The government is supposed to be the protector of the people… Possibly first time in independent India, the government did not play that role,” he said here at a function to launch a book on the riots.

The book “Untold Agony of 1984” written by former journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay was launched on Wednesday evening where civil society members, writers and political leaders were also present.

“It is the people’s responsibility to keep the struggle for justice alive,” Urvashi Bhutalia, a veteran columnist and author said.

“It is never too late to seek justice. It is the people’s core responsibility to keep the memories alive by writing about it and carry on to next generation,” she added.

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sudhanshu Mittal also spoke on the event and said: “Apart from the professional failure of the armed forces and the state, the people in the city also shamed us.”

“People were being encouraged and endorsed for the acts of violence,” he said.

He also questioned the then Congress government for not citing an Special Investigation Team (SIT) immediately after the riots.

“Why wasn’t the SIT cited like it was done post-2002 Godhra riots,” he asked.

He said the criminal evidence cannot be used after 31 years of the riots.

(IANS)

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Indira Gandhi was aware of her life threat: Pranab Mukherjee

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New Delhi: Indira Gandhi knew her life was at risk when she decided to go for militarily storm the Golden Temple, President Pranab Mukherjee reveals in the second part of his memoirs released on Thursday.

“The Turbulent Years, 1980-1996” (Rupa) says that “criminals, smugglers and anti-social elements” had joined the Khalistan movement and recalls that the Golden Temple had become a safe haven for them.

The President writes that talks with the Akali Dal failed due to its rigid stance, and last ditch efforts were made shortly before “Operation Blue Star” – as the military operation was codenamed – was launched.

Even a few days before Operation Blue Star, an attempt was made to find a solution by holding a meeting with the Akali Dal leaders who were brought from jail to the lounge of the Chandigarh airport at midnight.

“PV Narasimha Rao, Cabinet Secretary Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and I represented the government in that meeting. Unfortunately, the talks remained unsuccessful,” he says in the book released at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Vice President M Hamid Ansari.

By May 1984, it became increasingly clear that there was no alternative but military action to flush out the terrorists within the Golden Temple, particularly as the negotiations and discussions had not yielded the desired results.

The decision to storm the Golden Temple was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) but no official was present at the meet, Mukherjee writes.

Operation Blue Star was launched at the Golden Temple on June 3, 1984, with the army entering the premises.

Mukherjee then writes how Gandhi told him she was aware of the threat to her life.

“I still vividly recall Mrs Gandhi telling me, ‘Pranab, I know of the consequences.’  She understood the situation well and was clear that there was no other option.” he added.

“Aware that her own life was at risk, she took a conscious decision to go ahead in the best interest of the nation.”

Mukherjee defends the operation, calling the situation in Punjab at that time “abnormal”.

“It is easy to say that the military action could have been avoided. However, nobody really knows if any other option would have worked. Such decisions are always taken based on the conditions prevailing at that time. The situation in Punjab was abnormal.”

He adds that the “biggest tragedy” of the whole event was the “loss of Mrs Gandhi”.

Her last speech in Orissa, two days before her assassination, was prophetic. She said, ‘I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow… I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it’.

Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, at her Safdarjung Road residence in New Delhi by two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star.( IANS)(Picture Courtesy: wikipedia)

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