Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday described 1984 anti-Sikh riots that broke out after his grandmother and then prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards, a “painful tragedy” and said that he would “100 per cent support” punishment for those involved in the violence.
Addressing a gathering of UK-based parliamentarians and local leaders in London, the Gandhi scion, however, denied any involvement of his party in the riots.
"I think any violence done against anybody is wrong. There are legal processes ongoing in India but as far as I'm concerned anything done that was wrong during that period should be punished and I would support that 100 per cent.
"I have no confusion in my mind about that. It was a tragedy, it was a painful experience. You say that the Congress party was involved in that, I don't agree with that. Certainly, there was violence, certainly there was a tragedy," he said.
More than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were accused of masterminding the riots.
Later during an interaction at the London School of Economics, when he was asked again about the riots, he said that when former prime minister Manmohan Singh had already spoken about it and added that he himself was a victim of the violence.
"When Mr Manmohan Singh spoke, he spoke for all of us. As I said earlier, I am a victim of violence and I understand what it feels," he said referring to his father Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by the LTTE in 1991.
In 2013, Singh had apologised for the 1984 riots in Parliament. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had also expressed regret about the incident.