Indian Overseas Congress Chairman Sam Pitroda on Friday apologised for his purported remark on the 1984 anti-Sikh violence. Pitroda said his remark was misrepresented and “blown out of proportion”.

“The statement I made was completely twisted, taken out of context because my Hindi isn’t good, what I meant was ‘jo hua vo bura hua’ [what happened was bad], I couldn’t translate ‘bura’ in my mind,” ANI quoted Pitroda as saying.

BJP leaders on Friday tweeted a video clip of an interview in which Pitroda responded to an ANI reporter’s question about the violence with: “Hua to hua [it happened, so what?]”. The exchange took place on Thursday.

“What I meant was move on,” Pitroda told ANI on Friday. “We have other issues to discuss as to what the BJP government did and what it delivered. I feel sorry that my remark was misrepresented, I apologise. This has been blown out of proportion.”

The Congress leader had earlier in the day accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of distorting his quotes. BJP leaders, including Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley, criticised Pitroda for his comment and sought an apology from Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

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Congress says Pitroda’s remark not party’s opinion

The Congress on Friday said Pitroda’s remark was not in line with the party’s opinion and said it has advised leaders to be careful and sensitive. “Violence and riots are unacceptable and unpardonable in our society,” the party said in a statement. “Any opinion remark made by any individual to the contrary including Sam Pitroda is not the opinion of the Congress party.”

The party said justice should be done to victims of the 1984 violence, as also to the 2002 Gujarat riot victims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time of the riots.

The Congress made an indirect reference to Pragya Singh Thakur’s candidature. “Lastly, unlike the BJP, which has decided to field a candidate charged with terror crimes and is being lauded as its face by none less than Narendra Modi himself, Congress party has shown the moral and political courage to punish people and leaders accused of violence/role in 1984,” it said. “This is the yardstick of self imposed accountability and sense of justice to people followed by the Congress party, unlike the BJP.”

The Congress accused the BJP of using riots as a “vote garnering exercise” in every election. “People should see through this Machiavellian game of deception, distraction and distortion by Narendra Modi.”

Minorities commission issues notice to Pitroda

The National Commission for Minorities on Friday issued a notice to Pitroda for his remark based on a complaint filed by BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga.

The notice said Pitroda’s remark “hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of the Sikh community” and sought an unconditional apology from Pitroda towards them. Sikhs are a notified minority community in India and the “incident of 1984 massacre is a blot in the history of mankind”, the notice said.