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Govt will examine Nanavati cases: PM

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Last updated on: August 10, 2005 18:24 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the government will take all possible steps within the ambit of law to reopen or further examine individual cases recommended by the Nanavati Commission report on 1984 anti-Sikh violence. 

Intervening in a debate on an opposition-sponsored adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha, Dr Singh said, "There is absolutely no evidence" of involvement of late Rajiv Gandhi or any other high-ranking Congress leader in the violence that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. 

Appealing to the opposition to put behind this bitterness, Dr Singh said, "We should throw away partisan spectacles and work together to find new pathways to ensure that such tragedies never take place."

Observing that government 'cannot act if the commission itself is not not sure', Dr Singh said, "However, there is something called perception and sentiments."

"Government respects and bows to these sentiments expressed in the House on Wednesday. Our government assures the House that wherever the commission has named any specific individuals as needing further examination or specific cases needing re-opening and re-examination, the government will take all possible steps to do so within the ambit of law," he said adding, "this is a solemn promise and a solemn commitment to this House."

The most important issue is the need to rehabilitate the families of those affected by that 'national tragedy', Dr Singh said.

"Twenty years after the events, it may be considered late in the day to be saying this. However, if there has been any shortcoming in this regard, it is our solemn assurance that we will make sincere efforts to redress these shortcomings," he said.

"We will try to ensure that widows and children of those who suffered in this tragedy are enabled to lead a life of dignity and self-respect. It will be our honest attempt to wipe out tears from every suffering eye," he said.

Describing the 1984 incidents as a 'national shame, a great human tragedy', he appealed to political parties not to politicise a human tragedy.

Dr Singh said, "There is absolutely no evidence that Rajiv Gandhi or any other high ranking Congress (I) leaders had suggested or organised attacks on the Sikhs."

In the case of others, he said, the commission has said 'that it is probable that they may have some involvement in
some of the incidents and that there is evidence to this effect'.

"The commission is in itself not certain, however, of the role of these individuals. As the Action Taken Report says government cannot act when the Commission itself is uncertain....", he said. 

Dr Singh said it was hoped that various commissions of inquiry would be able to establish beyond a shadow of doubt as to who were really to be blamed for the violence and the rioting that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

"Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Fingers had been pointed at individuals, but seldom has there been proof beyond a shadow of doubt in the report of the inquiry commissions. Consequently, the search for truth has to continue," he said.

Maintaining the Justice Nanavati Commission of Inquiry was only the latest attempt in this direction, Dr Singh said, "As in the case of some of the previous commissions, doubts still remain and I acknowledge them."

Stating that most government officials and police officials who have been examined by the commission for their role have retired from the government, he said action against some of them was taken then and subsequntly as well.

"Many have since retired and it is not not possible normally to act against them after such a long gap of 20 years. Nevertheless, our government will consult the Law Ministry to bring the guilty to book to the maximum extent possible," Singh said.

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