You may have heard of the infamous quote by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in which he is said to have justified the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. But HS Phoolka, a lawyer who has represented multiple 1984 riot victims, on Thursday released the so far unseen footage of the rally in which the former Prime Minister made the statement.
In the grainy video, that has a Doordarshan Archives watermark, the former Prime Minister is seen addressing a rally alongside a big picture of his mother Indira Gandhi. ScoopWhoop could not independently verify the video's authenticity.
"For some days people had thought that India was shaking. But whenever a big tree falls the ground shakes a little," the former Prime Minister is heard saying. The audience roars in approval and applauds. The statement is widely considered to be the then newly-elected Prime Minister's justification of the 1984 riots after Indira Gandhi's assassination in which close to 3,000 members of the Sikh community were killed.
Phoolka, while releasing the video on Thursday, demanded that the Bharat Ratna awarded to Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 posthumously be taken back for his alleged role in the riots. The lawyer also alleged that the Congress government had wiped out all records of the insensitive statement from Doordarshan's archives.
However, party MP Mani Shankar Aiyar had defended the Prime Minister saying that the statement was not a justification of the riots but was made well after the riots was over and the victims of the riots safely housed in refugee camps.
Writing for the India Today in 2011 , Aiyar laid the blame squarely on the then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao and Delhi's Lieutenant Governor saying that they had failed in their responsibilities. Aiyar said that Gandhi had made an appeal for peace and had even been seen telling off Congress workers who were shouting a slogan synonymous with the riots " Khoon ka badla khoon ".