The Congress move to drop Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar as its Lok Sabha poll candidates over their alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots on Thursday drew sharp reactions from leaders in Punjab, the only Sikh majority state in India.
Ruling Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said the "much belated cancellation of tickets of butchers of thousands of Sikhs was direct acceptance of guilt by (the) Congress of their active role in organising the riots".
"The real face of the anti-Punjabi Congress got exposed with the deliberate design of clean chit to Tytler and tickets to both architects of anti-Sikh riots," Badal said in a statement.
Sikh organisations had blocked rail traffic Wednesday to protest clean chit to Tytler and Kumar whose names have figured in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Radical Sikh groups like the Dal Khalsa demanded strict action against Tytler and Kumar.
"Just taking back the tickets is not enough and our struggle for justice will continue till we see the culprits behind bars. The incident of 1984 was not riots, it was a Sikh massacre and the Congress is solely responsible for it," Kanwarpal Singh, Dal Khalsa convener, said.
"We are still doubtful about a free inquiry in the case. There are many proofs against these tainted leaders and it is very disappointing the Congress is trying to shield them."
"Their leaders have also unscrupulously interfered in the inquiry of CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)," Kanwarpal Singh added.
"The withdrawal of Congress ticket is not the conclusive end and it has come only as an interim relief," said former Punjab deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh.
"It is only a political decision taken due to the widespread upheaval in the Sikh community and because the Congress did not want to face public wrath in Punjab."
Kiranbir Singh Kang, president of the Youth Akali Dal, said the "political gimmick" by the Congress to withdraw the candidature of Tytler and Kumar was a "useless exercise".
Former president of Akal Federation Kanwar Pal Singh Dhami said: "The government has to take stern action against the leaders to suppress the increasing frustration among the Sikh community in the state. Just cancelling their tickets will not work. We want our judiciary to take strict action against them."