Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit feels the then Congress government had failed in maintaining the law and order situation during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots 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 appears to be an admittance, Dikshit, son of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and former Lok Sabha MP, said 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 in Delhi 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 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.