New Delhi: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that the 1984 riots could have been avoided if the then home minister Narsimha Rao had acted upon the advice of Inder Kumar Gujral's advice, who was the PM then.
Speaking at an event to mark the 100th birth anniversary of IK Gujral, India's prime minister in 1997-98, Singh said, "When the incident took place, Gujral ji was so concerned that he went to the then home minister Narsimha Rao that very evening and said to him that the situation is so grave that it is necessary for the government to call the Army at the earliest. If that advice would have been heeded perhaps the 1984 massacre could have been avoided."
Approximately 3,000 people were killed across India in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, also known as the 1984 Sikh massacre, that broke out following the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
Gujral was the 12th prime minister and propounded the 'Gujral Doctrine' of five principles for maintaining good relations with India's neighbours.
Elaborating on how his relationship with Gujral grew, post the emergency period, Singh said, "He was the minister of Information and Broadcasting and he had problems with some aspects of the management of emergency and then he was removed to the planning commission as minister of state. I was then an economic advisor with the ministry of finance. Thereafter our relationship grew."
Meanwhile, Narsimha Rao's grandson NV Subash has strongly condemned Singh's statement, saying it is "unacceptable".
"As a family member, I am feeling saddened by this statement by Dr Manmohan Singh, it is unacceptable," said Subash, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, to news agency ANI.
He further questioned if any home minister can take an independent decision without the Cabinet's approval. Subash said that if the Army had been called, it would have been a "disaster".
(With ANI inputs)