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Monday, Dec 16, 2019

1984 riots could’ve been avoided if Gujral’s advice was heeded: Manmohan Singh

If the advice by late Inder Kumar Gujral had been heeded, perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided,” former PM Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2019 09:25 IST
Anisha Dutta
Anisha Dutta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was addressing a function to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Gujral, one of his predecessors.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was addressing a function to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Gujral, one of his predecessors.(PTI)
         

The riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 could have been avoided had the late Inder Kumar Gujral’s advice to call in the army at the earliest to tackle the violence had been heeded, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday at a function to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Gujral, one of his predecessors.

“...when the sad event of 1984 took place, Gujral ji on that very sad evening went to the then home minister Shri (PV) Narasimha Rao and told him the situation is so grave that it is necessary for the government to call the army {in} at the earliest. If that advice had been heeded, perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided,” Singh said.

Singh said both Gujral and him shared the same legacy of being Pakistani refugees who went on to become prime ministers of India.

“ Gujral ji and I were born in the same district of Jhelum in Pakistan and that was a bond which sustained us for a large part of the journey that he and I have travelled together (to become Prime Ministers)..,” Singh said.

Born in Jhelum on December 4, 1919, Gujral hailed from a family of freedom fighters and actively participated in the freedom struggle since 1931 and went to jail in 1942 during the Quit India Movement. He served a brief stint as the 12th Prime Minister of India and also became the third PM to be elected from the Rajya Sabha after Indira Gandhi and HD Deve Gowda.

Leaders across the political spectrum paid homage to Gujral. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, railway minister Piyush Goyal, external affairs minister S Jaishankar, former president Pranab Mukherjee, former vice president Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury were among those present at the function.

“ I am enormously proud that I started my career in Moscow under Mr Gujral when he was the ambassador...he in a sense had a Saturday Club in his embassy. The officers meeting were deliberately non-hierarchical, he would insist that young people spoke first ... there was something very special that I learned from him which was: somewhere policy ends and politics begins and unless you actually spend time with someone in political life you don’t get the politics part of it. You can have wonderful political analysis but that will founder on the practicality of politics...,” Jaishankar said.