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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

More needs to be done for 1984 victims: Ramesh

PTI  New Delhi, February 16, 2014
First Published: 15:54 IST(16/2/2014) | Last Updated: 15:55 IST(16/2/2014)

Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday termed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as a "blot" on the country and the Congress and suggested that more needs to be done for the victims and to bring the guilty to book.

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He also refused to compare the violence with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, saying the latter were "born out of hatred" in Gujarat.

"... 1984 riots are a blot on all of us. It is a blot on the Congress, it is a blot on the nation... 2002 riots were born out of underlying 60-year ideology of hatred and demonization," Ramesh told a private news channel.

The rural development minister said this when he was questioned about Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's recent TV interview in which he drew parallel with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and 2002 Gujarat riots.

Rahul had said that then Congress government at the Centre had tried to stop the riots that took place after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi's Gujarat did just opposite to it when 2002 Gujarat riots took place.

Ramesh said what Rahul stated was "completely true."

"Because I was right here. The Prime Minister was going around the city making an appeal...Army was called in...," he said.

"I think what Mr Gandhi was saying which was refusing to acknowledge that 1984 riots was not born out of an ideology of hatred which the 2002 riots were... We were re-elected in Punjab, we lost Punjab, we won Punjab... Sikhs voted for us, Sikhs voted against us...," Ramesh said.

When asked whether Rahul should have apoligised for 1984 riots as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did, Ramesh said, "There is much to be said for an apology, there is much to be said for ensuring the justice is meted out to the people who are victims of 1984 riots in terms of compensation... in terms of bringing the guilty to book..."

When repeatedly asked the same question, he said, "I can't speak on his (Rahul's) behalf. All I am saying that the Prime Minister has apologised... the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) has apologised... Mr Gandhi has been to the Golden temple...

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