Senior lawyer HS Phoolka, who has been fighting for the rights of 1984 Sikh riots victims, on Thursday demanded that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Bharat Ratna Award be withdrawn, and accused him of justifying the 1984 ‘genocide’.
“In 1984, on this day, nation’s prime minister had justified the killing of 3, 000 Sikhs in his address at the boat club in national capital. He had said that when a big tree falls then the earth shakes. Instead of punishing the culprits of such mass murder, he was justifying it,” Phoolka said at a press conference here.
“A Prime Minister, who justified and genocide and whose party was responsible for the massacre, can’t be a Bharat Ratna. We demand Rajiv Gandhi’s Bharat Ratna’s be taken back,” he added.
He said that Rajiv Gandhi had not only protected main accused – HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler- of the 1984 riots case, but also awarded them berths in his ministry.
“He not only failed to take action against accused Tytler and HKL Bhagat, he made them ministers in his cabinet. On November 16, 1984, the Home Minister of the country announced that the death toll in the Sikh riots was 684. It took him three years to realise how many had died after a report which assessed that 2733 Sikhs were killed,” he added.
Phoolka also accused the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government of wiping out the records of his insensitive ‘big tree…’ remark on riots from national broadcaster Doordarshan’s archives.
The senior lawyer, however, said that the footage of Rajiv Gandhi making such a remark had been found, and distributed it among media personnel present at the press conference.
Phoolka had on Tuesday slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) over the handling of the 1984 Sikh Riots case, saying that the top investigating agency had refrained from taking serious action against Tytler.
Tytler was among the three prominent leaders named in the reports in the anti-Sikh riots case.
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which claimed the lives of almost 3000 Sikhs, were triggered by the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards.