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Rahul Gandhi’s remark on riot victims ticks off SP, BJP, clerics

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s virulent attack on principal Opposition BJP for its hate politics, especially the reference to the Muzzafarnagar riots, has created huge rumblings in the political domain. Gandhi on Thursday had said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was in touch with the Muslim youth after the riots to recruit them as cadres.

While the BJP demanded a probe into the matter and action against the erring officials who Gandhi said had briefed him on the matter, Samajwadi Party, which extends outside support to the UPA, as well as the CPI, criticised Rahul for raking up issues that sought to link Muslims to terrorism and could create hatred among the communities.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday attacked Rahul at a public rally in Jhansi and dared him to reveal the identity of such persons or apologise publicly for levelling ‘serious allegations’ and ‘defaming’ the entire community. ‘It is your responsibility to make public the names of such youth (who were in touch with Pakistani agencies)... If you do not disclose the names, then you should apologise publicly for defaming an entire community,’ Modi said at a public meeting in Jhansi.

Targeting the Congress and its government over it, Modi said, ‘You are behaving as a news agency, just giving news about what the ISI is doing. You have to act against them.’ ‘If Rahul Gandhi is saying that ISI is in touch with the youth in India, what action is the government taking? The home minister must answer. If these (the Congress vice-president’s remarks) are IB inputs, the home minister owes an explanation on Rahul’s revelations. This is very serious. We can’t take politics today to that level where Congress wants to take it,’ BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said in Srinagar.

 Gandhi’s claim also came for criticism from a section of Muslim clerics. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, senior vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, also said that anyone who casts aspersions on the integrity and loyalty of the minorities of the country was doing a great disservice to the country and the Muslims.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Friday defended Gandhi’s statement. Party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said that Rahul Gandhi was Congress vice-president and a two-time Member of Parliament and elected representatives meet a wide variety of people including police officials and intelligence services officers.

Party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, on the other hand, said that BJP and ISI rejoice whenever there are riots. ‘Really true! Whenever and wherever communal trouble erupts in this country two sets of people rejoice. Pakistan’s ISI and India’s Bhajpaei,’ Ahmed said, endorsing the stand taken by his party leader. 
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