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Report on Anti-Sikh Riots Kicks Up Anger in India


An Indian government inquiry that has accused some Congress Party leaders of involvement in anti-Sikh riots in 1984 has triggered protests from opposition groups and the minority Sikh community. The riots followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and Sikh lawmakers led angry protests in Parliament on Tuesday, forcing it to adjourn.

These parties demand that the government prosecute a junior minister, Jagdish Tytler. A government inquiry says there is evidence he may have instigated riots that targeted the Sikh community in 1984. They were among India's worst religious riots and left nearly 3,000 Sikhs dead.

Mr. Tytler has denied involvement, and the government says it will not prosecute him as the inquiry did not produce conclusive evidence against him.

The report also named several other Congress leaders, and said they and party workers either incited or helped the mobs attacking Sikhs. The report also says several police officials were negligent in controlling the riots.

Atal Behari Vajpayee, the BJP leader and former prime minister, says his successor, Manmohan Singh, should resign as prime minister if he does not punish those responsible for the riots.

Mr. Vajpayee says the government should not try to cover up, but should punish the guilty.

Leftist parties, which support the government coalition led by the Congress Party, also joined the chorus of denunciation of the government. Gurudas Dasgupta leads the Communist Party of India.

"Those who are responsible, if evidence is found they should be brought to book," said Mr. Dasgupta.

Anger against the government also spilled over in the streets of New Delhi, where Sikh groups held noisy demonstrations, shouting slogans like "Hang the killers."

The latest inquiry is the ninth into the 1984 riots. It was started by the former BJP government, because the Sikh community was dissatisfied with investigations done by previous Congress Party governments. It is the first report to name Congress leaders in connection with the riots.

On Tuesday, several newspapers called on the government to act on the report to heal the wounds of the Sikh community, who make up about two percent of the population.

Human rights groups allege that several Congress Party leaders instigated mobs to attack the Sikhs, a charge the party denies.

The Congress Party says the opposition is trying to politicize the issue, and it is prepared to debate the report in Parliament.

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