::Nanavati Commission 2005::


I.K. Gujral
Anti-Sikh riots 'organised': Gujral

The former Prime Minister, I. K. Gujral, today told the Nanavati Commission that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots were an ``organised'' act and no efforts were made to nab the culprits who indulged in looting and burning of properties of Sikhs in the capital.

"From what I had seen and heard, it appeared to me that the riots were organised, particularly so when many persons had participated in them and they(riot) were spread throughout the city,'' Mr. Gujral, deposing as a witness, told the Commission probing the riots after the assassination of the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

He said on November 1, when he went to apprise to the then Home Minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao, about the situation in the city, he could see "there was no effort to arrest those people who were looting and burning the properties of the Sikhs, nor anybody trying to control the riots".

Mr. Gujral said he had met Mr. Rao twice and during the talks it appeared that the Home Minister did not know in detail about what was happening in the city as he was busy receiving foreign dignitaries who were visiting Delhi to attend Indira Gandhi's funeral.

Mr. Rao had told him that police were facing difficulty in controlling the crowd at the Teen Murti Bhavan, where Indira Gandhi's body was kept for public to pay their tributes, Mr. Gujral said.


Narasimha Rao was totally unresponsive: Patwant Singh

Deposing before the Nanavati commission probing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, writer Patwant Singh Tuesday accused the then home minister P V Narasimha Rao of being ''totally unresponsive'' to the unfolding crisis in the wake of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Singh, who had gone to see Rao at his residence along with former prime minister I K Gujral and Lt Gen J S Arora a day after the October 31 assassination, also said in an affidavit that Rao's approach was so casual that it clearly gave an indication that he was ''totally unconcerned''.

''We reached the home minister's house at about 15 hours IST. We were suprised to see that there was no activity there. Rao was looking impassive and seemingly without care. The atmosphere at the house did not show that there was any crisis in the country,'' Singh said.

Singh said that during the more than an hour-long meeting, Rao neither received any telephone call nor did he make any. No officer had come to see him during this period.

Blaming Mr Rao for not making proper arrangements for the immediate deployment of the army to control the situation, he said: ''The army was not made effective till November 3, 1984. The murderous mobs were given a free hand for three days.''

''This casual approach of the home minister appears to be not only gross negligence but connivance with the perpetrators of this heinous crime,'' Singh said in his affidavit.

In his affidavit, Patwant Singh said that on the morning of November 1, he had also called on the then President Giani Zail Singh, seeking his intervention to control the situation, but the President said he had no powers to intervene.

Stunned by this "astounding remark", Patwant Singh said: "Mr President, you mean to tell us that if the nation is going up in flames and people are being butchered in the streets, you have no power to stop the anarchy and bloodshed." The President kept silent, he added.

During this meeting, the eminent writer was accompanied by Air Chief Marshal (retd) Arjan Singh , Lt Gen J S Arora and Brig Sukhjit Singh and former diplomat Gurbachan Singh.

Patwant Singh said when they insisted that the President should speak forcefully to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to put an end to the barbaric acts, he replied: "I will do so in three or four days' time. I want to give him some time."

Singh then remarked: "Blood is being spilt on the streets and you want three four days to talk to the prime minister." The President, he said, then relented and said he would have a word with the PM that afternoon. "But I believe he did not," he added.

Patwant Singh said when he again met Narasimha Rao on November 10, 1984 for help to bring the guilty to the book, his approach was again very lukewarm. The home minister said the law would take its own course.

"But the law was not permitted to take its own course and was deliberately scuttled at every stage at the instance of people in power," Patwant Singh said.

Deposing before the commission for the first time, Patwant Singh also highlighted the contrast of approach of the administration in handling the situation after the 1948 assassination of Mahatma Gandhi with that of Indira Gandhi.

Before broadcasting news regarding the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on All India Radio, he said, steps were taken to maintain law and order to avoid bloodshed in the streets, police and army were alerted in advance.

"Unfortunately, no such precautions were taken before broadcasting the news of assassination of Indira Gandhi. On the contrary, I noticed that after almost every 15 minutes slogans like khoon ka badla khoon were shown repeatedely uttered by the crowd," he said.

"Despite our efforts and the pains we took to drive home the enormity of the tragedy which was unfolding before our eyes to those whose constitutional and moral responsibility was to protect the lives of the nation's citizens, these men did nothing and thereby connived in the killing of thousands of innocent Sikhs," Patwant Singh said in his affidavit.

"Many of their partymen, ministerial colleagues and fellow parliamentarians actually instigated the mobs to kill Sikh men, women and children," he added.

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