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PM says '84 riots should never have happened

By V S Chandrasekar
June 28, 2010 23:35 IST
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The 1984 anti-Sikh riots should never have happened, a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday but at the same time appealed to the Sikh community to "move on" to let the wounds of the tragedy heal.

Speaking to the community members in Toronto after paying homage to the victims of the 1985 Kanishka bombing at the Air India Memorial, Singh reminded them that he had apologised to the nation for the carnage that ensued the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. "The 1984 anti-Skih riots should never have happened. I have apologised to the nation... all possible steps will be taken to provide succour and comfort," he said.

Singh, the first Sikh to ascend to the post of prime minister of India, said "by constantly reminding of the 1984 riots, sometimes you unwittingly vitiate the creative thinking of the Sikh community". "We need to move on," he said. The prime minister said Sikhs in India were no longer restricted to Punjab but were actively participating in all spheres of the public life, referring to his own example. "There is a prime minister, there was an army chief, you have governors and ambassadors," he pointed out.

In 2005, during a discussion in the Parliament on the Nanavati Shah Commission report on the anti-Sikh riots, Singh had intervened and apologised to the nation and to the community for the violence which some of his party's leaders were accused of instigating. The prime minister's remarks came at the Air India Memorial where a lawmaker of Indian origin spoke about growing pro-Khalistan feelings in Canada. Ahead of Singh's visit to Canada, there was an attempt to raise the 1984 riots issue in Canadian Parliament when a group of Sikh MPs moved a petition seeking the the Canadian government recognise the carnage as a 'genocide'.

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V S Chandrasekar in Toronto
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