Seeking to put behind memories of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the country has moved on since the "tragic incident" and it was time to "forgive and build a new India".
"It is time that we forgive and move on to build a new India where every citizen irrespective of faith has an equal place," he said while addressing a function to felicitate him for his role in removing the names of 142 Sikhs from a black list.
Recalling the tragic incidents in 1984 after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards, Chidambaram said the country has moved on since then. Only the small step of removing the names of a large number of Sikhs from the 'black list' was left which has been addressed to by the government recently.
"We have moved on when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, we have moved on subsequently, we have moved on when Manmohan Singh made that poignant speech asking for forgiveness, we moved on since Sonia Gandhi became Congress president," he said.
The home minister was referring to Dr Singh's speech in Parliament in 2005 where he apologised to the Sikh community for the incident.
"One small step had remained and that is to remove the large number of names from what is called the black list. I am happy that I played a small and humble part in removing 142 names from the black list," the home minister said.
In a significant decision, the government had removed from its black list the names of 142 wanted terrorists and their associates, including the heads of various Sikh extremist groups.
Noting that the government would initiate all possible steps to address grievances of the Sikh community, Chidambaram said the government would issue orders "shortly" to help the Sikhs who have returned from Afghanistan following violence in the neighbouring country.
"For a Sikh living anywhere in the world, India is the homeland, India is the home. Therefore, whenever any Sikh from anywhere in the world returns to his home, we have a duty to welcome him to India," the home minister said.
Thousands of Sikh families have come to India from Afghanistan since violence erupted there in the early 1980s.