London/New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has described the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as a "very painful tragedy" and said he was "100 per cent" for the punishment for those involved in any violence against anybody.
Nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots in 1984 following the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards when the Congress government was in power at the Centre.
Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to the UK, told the audience of UK-based parliamentarians and local leaders on Friday that the incident was a tragedy and painful experiences, but disagreed with the view that the Congress was "involved".
"I think any violence done against anybody is wrong. There are legal processes ongoing in India but as far as I'm concerned anything done that was wrong during that period should be punished and I would support that 100 per cent," he said.
"I have no confusion in my mind about that. It was a tragedy, it was a painful experience. You say that the Congress party was involved in that, I don't agree with that. Certainly there was violence, certainly there was tragedy."
Later, during an interactive session at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) when he was again asked about the anti-Sikh riots, Gandhi said: "When Mr Manmohan Singh spoke, he spoke for all of us. As I said earlier, I am a victim of violence and I understand what it feels."
He was referring to the killing of his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE in 1991.
"So, I am against any sort of violence against anybody on this planet. I get disturbed when I see anybody being hurt. So, I condemn that 100 per cent and I am 100 per cent for punishment for those involved in any violence against anybody. That's crystal clear," said Gandhi.
He said that people, who have not had violence inflicted upon them, think that violence is what one sees in movies. "That's not what it is. I have seen people who I loved very much being killed. I have also seen the person (Prabhakaran) who killed my father being killed.
"When I saw Prabhakaran lying on the beaches in Jaffna (Lanka), when I saw him being humiliated, the way he was, I felt sorry for him, because I saw my father in his place and his children in my place," he added.
"So, when you are being hit by violence, when you understand it, it has a completely different impact on you."
Gandhi said most people do not understand violence which is a horrible thing. Some Congress leaders have been accused of leading the killer mobs during the riots. They have denied the allegations.
Earlier Gandhi had invoked Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru, during his address in Germany, drawing a sharp reaction from the BJP which said Gandhi should apologise for the "heinous crime" at the Golden Temple....