Seeking to assuage the sentiments of the Sikh community, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday apologised for the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, saying he was not standing on any 'false prestige' and bowed his head in shame.
Describing the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi as a 'great national tragedy', he said, 'what happened subsequently was equally shameful'.
Intervening in a discussion on an opposition-sponsored motion in the Rajya Sabha on the Nanavati Commission's report, Dr Singh said he had seen statements by opposition leaders that he should seek forgiveness from the country.
"I have no hesitation in apologising to the Sikh community. I apologise not only to the Sikh community, but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our Constitution," he said.
Dr Singh said, "On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of this country I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place."
Dr Singh said he had accompanied Congress president Sonia Gandhi to Harminder Sahib (Golden temple in Amritsar) some five or six years ago and 'we together prayed to give us strength and show us the way that such things never again take place in our country'.
An emotional Singh said while one cannot rewrite the past, 'but as human beings we have the will power and we have the ability to write better future for all of us'.