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Delhi riots dominate Amarinder vs Arun battle in Amritsar

The political battle in Amritsar is being fought over the 1984 riots in Delhi.

BJP candidate Arun Jaitley has hit out at his opponent, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, for appearing to suggest that Delhi Congress leader Jagdish Tytler was not involved in the anti-Sikh violence that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

In a television interview on Sunday, Singh had said Tytler’s name cropped up in connection with the riots only when he contested elections against the BJP in Delhi. “I’m not the CBI, I’m not the court. I’m telling you what I saw and felt.... I was in Delhi, I went to all the camps… and everyone I met took all these names that I have told you except Jagdish Tytler. When did Jagdish Tytler’s name come up? It came up when he was fighting Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi, that was months later,” the former army captain said.

Jaitley questioned Singh’s statement. “Is he trying to prejudge the guilt of a person who is perceived to be involved in the riots? Is his personal and political relationship more important to the Captain than the interest of the victims?” he wrote in his blog on Monday.

The BJP leader also attacked the Congress leadership for providing “a cover up” for what he called “state sponsored” violence. “Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. Justice Ranganath Mishra’s Commission, appointed by the Congress government, provided a cover up for the state sponsored violence. After his retirement, this judge was rewarded with the Rajya Sabha nomination by the Congress Party. It is only the NDA government who appointed Justice Nanavati Commission of Inquiry which came out with the truth. Since then investigating agencies have tried to prosecute many of those involved in the riots,” he wrote.

Tytler, given a clean chit by the Mishra panel, was later implicated by the Nanavati commission.

The Akali Dal, the BJP’s ally in Punjab, held a protest at the Congress’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters on Monday morning. Police had to use water cannons after the protesters refused to budge.

“This is the same Delhi police that stood as mute spectators to riots in East Delhi and the same people who lathi-charged Ramdev and his followers while they were sleeping at night in the Ramlila Maidan a few years back,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said.

Tytler had entered his name for the Congress primaries from North East Delhi but pulled out at the last moment after the leadership expressed its displeasure.

His name was dropped from a list of candidates for the general election in 2009, too, the same year the CBI had filed a final report in court giving him a clean chit. In April last year, a sessions court rejected the report.