A day after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi denied his party’s role in the 1984 Sikh riots, three pro-Khalistan supporters tried to distrupt his public event in London on Saturday. The trio also chanted pro-Khalistan slogans and had to be escorted out by the police before Gandhi arrived.
The activists managed to enter the event where Gandhi was to deliver the inaugural address at the Indian Overseas Congress UK Mega Conference and started shouting “Khalistan Zindabad”. The audience then began to counter-chant “Congress party Zindabad” in reaction to the attempted disruption. The Khalistan supports were later ushered outside by Scotland Yard officers following a minor scuffle.
Gandhi, in his interaction with the UK-based Parliamentarians and local leaders in London on Friday, said that the Congress had no role in the 1984 riots that followed after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
“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 tragedy,” he said.
We crashed the Rahul event tonight disrupted & delayed it - just by our presence, when they realised we were not congress supporters, security desperately tried to evict us.— ਸ਼ਮਸ਼ੇਰ ਸਿੰਘ (@anandpur_exile) August 25, 2018
We took the protest outside when the police kicked us out, shouting pro-Khalistan slogans on the way out. pic.twitter.com/Xh9A3hOA4l
Rahul was driven in by IOC President Kamal Dhaliwal who deliberately swerved his car into us and hit one of the Singhs. The idiot did this in front of witnesses and CCTV. He’s under investigation for a hit and run. pic.twitter.com/OmrP7vKErO— ਸ਼ਮਸ਼ੇਰ ਸਿੰਘ (@anandpur_exile) August 25, 2018
In 2005, Congress leader and the former prime minister Manmohan Singh had apologised in Parliament to “the Sikh community” and the “whole nation” on behalf of “the government, on behalf of the entire people of this country” for the 1984 riots, saying, “I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place.”
Incidentally, during an interaction at the London School of Economics (LSE) later Friday, when again questioned about the anti-Sikh riots, Rahul too referred to Singh’s apology, saying the former PM had spoken for “all of us”
While Congress leader P Chidambaram came to Gandhi’s rescue saying “we are not absolving the Congress,” Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal accused him of trying to protect the Congress leaders involved in the “genocide”. “Rahul Gandhi has rubbed salt into the wounds of Sikh kaum (community). It shows the thinking of Gandhi towards the Sikh community,” he said. The Congress’ Punjab unit defended Gandhi’s comments and lambasted the Akalis, alleging they were “deliberately distorting” his remarks.
Over 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots in 1984. So far, 11 committees, commissions or teams have investigated the clashes. In January this year, the Supreme Court constituted another three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to re-investigate 186 of the cases.
ABSOLUTE SHOCKER!!!— Priti Gandhi (@MrsGandhi) August 26, 2018
At the Indian Overseas Congress meeting in London, anti-India, pro-Khalistani protesters are participating in the event. @RahulGandhi you owe a serious explanation for this dangerous, anti-national narrative being created against India. #RahulGandhiInLondon pic.twitter.com/Te70fQrq8f
In his opening address, chairman of the Overseas Congress Department of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), Sam Pitroda said: "Our message is all about democracy, freedom, inclusion, diversity, jobs, growth, prosperity, bottom-up development. We want you (diaspora) to spread that message. The results of 2019 (elections) will define India of the future".
Calling on the Indian diaspora to take Mahatma Gandhi's message of non-violence global, he said: "We all know that lies spread like wildfire on social media. Large number of media we believe does not do justice to us. We need your (diaspora) help in taking the right message to the media as well because one little mistake gets blown out of proportion".
Gandhi, in his address in Hindi, reiterated many of the messages from his previous interactions in London, describing the Congress party as a force to fight against hatred and divisions and called on the diaspora to get behind it in the run up to the 2019 general election as "foot soldiers" of the party.
"Our party was set up by NRIs. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel were all NRIs. They all went out into the world and brought their new way of thinking to help their country. You are following those footsteps, he said.
Taking aim at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress president attacked his "arrogance" for claiming that no development took place in India before he assumed power.
"When he says that, he is not insulting the Congress party but the citizens of India. But the media is with him," he said.