Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, locked in an intense battle for Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, were on Monday engaged in a fresh war of words, this time on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Attacking Mr. Singh for his reported defence of Mr. Tytler, Mr. Jaitley questioned whether the senior Congress leader is “trying to prejudge the guilt of a person who is perceived to be involved in the riots?”

“Is his personal and political relationship more important to Amarinder than the interest of the victims?” he asked.

Mr. Jaitley’s remarks came after Mr. Singh told a news channel that while other Congress leaders may be linked to the riots, Mr. Tytler played no role the violence.

“I’m not the CBI, I’m not the court. I’m telling you what I saw and felt.... I was in Delhi, I went to all the camps.. and everyone I met took all these names that I have told you except Jagdish Tytler. When did Jagdish Tytler’s name come up? It came up when he was fighting Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi, that was months later,” he had said.

But Mr. Singh on Monday clarified that he had not given a clean chit to Mr. Tytler. He said he had only stated what he had heard from the people immediately after the riots broke out in New Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984.

“It is not for the first time I have said so. I have been saying it for the past 30 years, but why is it now that Akalis and BJP have woken up and decided to protest?” he asked while adding, “for the obvious reasons they want to polarise people for petty political reasons as they are badly losing across Punjab, Amritsar in particular.”

Mr. Singh said the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 were the most tragic and gruesome and those responsible should be given exemplary punishment.