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BJP leaders on Tuesday raked up the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and called former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi the “father of mob lynching” to hit back at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his attack on the government over incidents of lynching. ” Before 2014, the word ‘lynching’ was practically unheard of. #ThankYouModiJi,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted, days after two cases of lynching in the Congress-ruled Punjab. The two men were lynched in separate incidents, and both of them were accused of sacrilege by Sikh religious leaders.

Information and Broadcasting Minister and BJP leader Anurag Thakur said the 1984 riots in which thousands of Sikhs were killed are the “biggest example” of lynching. Thakur also slammed Gandhi for using the abusive term “dalali” for the media when he was asked a question at a briefing, saying it’s a matter of big shame.

Noting that the Congress leader has attacked journalists for a third time in such manner, he urged the “big section of media”, which has always been speaking on such matters, to put forth its opinion too on the matter. Gandhi’s views are a reminder of the emergency when media rights were curbed, he said. Speaking to reporters, Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey noted that hundreds of Sikhs were killed in the 1984 riots, for which some Congress leaders were blamed, and also referred to the 1989 Bhagalpur riots to ask if these were not lynchings.

“Mobs killed Sikhs by burning tyres around their neck. Wasn’t it lynching?” he asked. BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya tweeted, “Meet Rajiv Gandhi, father of mob lynching, justifying blood curdling genocide of Sikhs. Congress took to streets, raised slogans like ‘khoon ka badla khoon se lenge’, raped women, wrapped burning tyres around necks of Sikh men while dogs gorged on charred bodies dumped in drains.” He posted a short clip of the former prime minister’s speech.

Rajiv Gandhi had said earth shakes when a big tree falls, remarks that were seen by critics to be justifying the anti-Sikh violence following the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Malviya also posted about various riots that happened under the Congress rule between 1969 and 1993 to take a swipe at Rahul Gandhi.

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