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Official records: Manmohan Singh cited what Gujral told Nanavati panel

Manmohan Singh

In his testimony before the Nanavati Commission, Gujral said that he had found Rao unaware of how the unrest was unfolding in the city. In fact, a strange reason was given to Gujral by then Lt Governor of Delhi, PG Gavai, for not calling in the ar…

NEW DELHI: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s belief that lives could be saved if the Army were called in immediately after riots broke out following Indira Gandhi’s assassination was shared by political leaders, veterans and even serving armed forces officers who had raised the matter, but the Congressled government had failed to act till it was too late, official records showed.

Singh had referred to former prime minister IK Gujral’s meeting with then home minister PV Narasimha Rao, saying that if his advice to press the army into action had been heeded, then “perhaps the massacre that took place in 1984 could have been avoided”.
Official records show that not only Gujral, but veterans like 1971 war hero Lt Gen JS Aurora had appealed to the government to deploy the Army without delay on October 31,1984, but it took the Congress regime more than 24 hours to react, resulting in anti-Sikh riots spreading across the national capital.

The president had said that he was not in touch with the home minister. The lack of action from the government had prompted the delegation to meet Rao but he, too, was found to be “impassive”.“This witness found the approach of the home minister casual and the impression which he and others carried was that he was totally unconcerned. He has also stated that as a matter of fact the home minister did not make any plan and discuss the matter with the Army chief for controlling the violence. They carried an impression that even if the Army arrives in the city, it will not be made effective and that their fears turned out to be correct as the Army was not made effective till 3-11-1984,” . the Nanavati commission report said.

In his testimony before the Nanavati Commission, Gujral said that he had found Rao unaware of how the unrest was unfolding in the city. In fact, a strange reason was given to Gujral by then Lt Governor of Delhi, PG Gavai, for not calling in the armed forces. “If the Army is called, there would be panic,” the Commission report quoted Gavai as telling him.
Gujral was impressed upon by Lt Gen Aurora, who had led the Indian forces to victory in East Pakistan in 1971, that immediate action was needed to be taken. In his testimony, writer Patwant Singh recorded that Lt Gen Aurora, former ambassador S Gurbachan Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh, who was later elevated to the rank of Marshal of the Air Force, met then president Giani Zail Singh, to ask for action.While most commissions and reports have absolved Rajiv Gandhi, the Nanavati report carried the testimony of SC Tandon, then Delhi police commissioner, who said that the decision to call in the Army by the prime minister was taken at1.30 pm on November 1, over 24 hours after the assassination.

In his testimony, Rao had defended his actions, saying that as the home minister, he was not competent to call the troops.

 

Indiavotekar

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