DELHI: The announcement of Kamal Nath being chosen as the Madhya Pradesh chief minister has been met with widespread shock and condemnation by Sikhs across the world.
Nath emerged as the front-runner for the post of Madhya Pradesh chief minister and was chosen by the Congress party as the chief minister designate late on Thursday night.
Supreme Court lawyer, H S Phoolka Thursday claimed there was “strong” evidence of Congress leader Kamal Nath’s involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide and said the wheel of justice was yet to turn against him.
“There’s ample amount of evidence against Kamal Nath and the wheel of justice is yet to turn against him.” stated Phoolka.
The senior advocate, who has been representing victims of the genocide in court cases, had earlier this year said that instead of punishing leaders involved in the anti-Sikh genocide, the Congress had elevated and promoted them.
“They were made ministers and given plum posts,” he had said.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Singh Bagga claimed the Congress is aware of Nath’s involvement in the genocide and that was why he was “removed” as Punjab in charge of the Congress before assembly elections in that state in 2017.
In one of his first interview, the MP CM-designate stated that there were no charges against him in 1984 anti-Sikh genocide.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa on Thursday accused the Congress leadership of protecting the perpetrators of the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide. Sirsa alleged that Nath was involved in the genocide that took place the aftermath of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.
Kamal Nath, one of the most senior leaders of the Congress party, was among those questioned by the Nanavati Commission for his alleged involvement in the genocide. In June 2016, an outcry over his appointment as the official Congress leader in charge of Punjab led him to resign from the post within three days.
“Whenever the Gandhi family comes to power, it protects the perpetrators of the 1984” Sirsa said. “Now, Rahul Gandhi and the Gandhi family are rewarding Kamal Nath as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi wants to give a message that those involved in the killings of Sikhs in 1984 now need not worry… that they are behind them and will reward them instead.”
Kamal Nath, renowned for his close ties to the Gandhi family, attended the Doon School (known as the Eton of India) with his friend Sanjay Gandhi. He was elected as an MP in 1980 in the constituency of Chhindwara in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
On November 1, 1984, Nath was accused of leading an armed mob that laid siege to Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in the heart of New Delhi only a few hundred yards from the nation’s Parliament buildings. A member of the gurdwara staff, Mukhtiar Singh, had seen an angry crowd approaching. Then they began pelting stones at the shrine and at those inside its boundary walls. Delhi Police officers were present but showed no interest in intervening. Within half an hour, the crowd swelled in size to around a thousand-strong.
At noon an attempt was made to storm the building, but staff and devotees collectively managed to push the mob back. An elderly Sikh devotee then decided to appeal for peace and approached the mob with folded hands. He was dragged out of the boundary and severely assaulted with stones. While he lay on the ground, white powder — suspected to be phosphorus — was thrown on his body causing it to catch fire. His son ran to attempt a rescue but, like his father, was also injured and set alight. The Sikhs managed to drag them, still alive, into the safety of the gurdwara but they died a few hours later owing to lack of medical treatment — the Gurdwara being surrounded on all sides and the police unresponsive to calls for assistance.
Further attacks were mounted. With the assistance of several police officers the mob eventually succeeded in entering the Gurdwara Sahib. Mukhtiar Singh and others drove them back again, this time pelting the intruders with the same stones that had been hurled at them. Another tactic used to hold them back was setting off fire crackers with a gun-like launcher, which the mob mistook for actual gunfire.
More attacks followed. In desperation one of the Sikhs fired his licenced pistol into the air. It was soon after this that a much larger force approached the Gurdwara, Mukhtiar Singh claimed he clearly saw Kamal Nath and other Congress men including Vasant Sathe, former minister of information and broadcasting, at its head. According to him, the police fired several rounds at those inside the Gurdwara after receiving instructions from Kamal Nath.
Observing from the street was a reporter for The Indian Express, (Monish) Sanjay Suri. He had set out that morning on his scooter and reached the Gurdwara by following a combination of the columns of smoke that rose above the city and some tip-offs from police contacts. On arriving he stated under oath to have seen Kamal Nath standing near to the front of the crowd, which was repeatedly surging forward as it attacked again and again.
Among the police personnel, who were watching on, there was additional commissioner of police, Gautam Kaul, who was carrying a bamboo shield. It was clear to Sanjay Suri that the management of the crowd had been left to Kamal Nath — when he signalled, the crowd listened. This level of control led Suri to conclude that they were Congress party workers who accepted him as their leader.