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Hate speech: Ram Shankar Katheria unapologetic, slammed; FIR against 3 persons

Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria Was Today Pilloried By Opposition Parties For His Alleged Hate Speech At A Condolence Meet For A VHP Leader In Agra Over Which Police Lodged An FIR Against Three People For Allegedly Making Inflammatory Comments But He Was Not Named.

PTI | Updated on: 02 Mar 2016, 12:59:25 AM

New Delhi :

Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria was today pilloried by opposition parties for his alleged hate speech at a condolence meet for a VHP leader in Agra over which police lodged an FIR against three people for allegedly making inflammatory comments but he was not named.

The Samajwadi Party(SP) demanded that Katheria be sacked, alleging that his remarks were “anti-national” while Congress alleged it showed that BJP and RSS resorted to divisive agenda, especially ahead of elections. Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, said the real agenda of the NDA government is being “exposed”.

As a group of social activists held a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the alleged hate speeches of Katheria and fellow BJP MP Babu Lal, the junior HRD minister claimed he did not name any community at the Sunday meeting.  Lal remained unapologetic and said Hindus cannot watch silently when they are being targeted.

“What has been published in one of the newspapers is false. I had not taken the name of any community. I had said that the culprits, who had murdered the VHP leader, should be given death sentence. I had also said that the Hindu community should unite for their safety,” Katheria said.

“I never said anything against anyone at that meeting,” Katheria said.

Katheria also ticked off saffron leader Sadhvi Prachi for her alleged inflammatory remarks at the meeting, saying she should not have made such comments.

“An FIR has been lodged against Prashant Chaudhary, Ashok Lavania and Kunduka Sharma at Loha Mandi police station in Agra,” IG (Law and Order) Bhagwan Swaroop told reporters in Lucknow.

Asked whether the three belonged to BJP or VHP, Swaroop said he did not have any information in this regard.

He said Katheria’s name was not in the FIR lodged by the concerned sub-inspector Anil Kumar.

Katheria, who represents the Agra Lok Sabha constituency, along with Lal, an MP from Fatehpur Sikri, had attended a condolence meeting held for VHP leader Arun Mahaur, who was allegedly killed by some youths from another community in Agra on Thursday.

“They speak whenever elections are nearing. They talk about dividing the country and not uniting. If they continue to speak like this, there will be repercussions across the country. Today we are raising this issue because Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are silent on this issue,” Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.

Rita Bahuguna Joshi, a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh, alleged that the inflammatory speeches at the condolence meeting was a “definite design” to create communal tension in Agra because the BJP was making attempts to divide the society “vertically on communal lines” in western UP.  Assembly elections in UP are due next year.

BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said the Minister has clarified his remarks. “Katheria has made it clear in his statement that he has said nothing wrong. And after this clarification, there is nothing to comment on.”

Union Minister Kalraj Mishra said the “tragic” murder of the VHP leader highlighted the poor law and order situation there but cautioned against “reactions which trigger violence and unrest”.

Minister refuses to apologise

Facing flak over their alleged inflammatory speeches, Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria today claimed he did not name any community while another BJP MP Babu Lal remained unapologetic and asked if Hindus should watch silently when they are being targeted.

“Tell me if we don’t take revenge, should we worship them instead? Is the community only meant to worship others while the other communities come and shoot us down,” BJP MP from Fatehpur Sikri Babu Lal said.

Katheria, who is Minister of State for HRD, and Babu Lal had made the controversial speeches at a condolence meeting held in Agra on Sunday for VHP leader Arun Mahaur, who was killed allegedly by some youths from another community on Thursday.

At the meeting, Katheria had said: “This conspiracy that is being hatched against the Hindu community, we have to be be alert to recognize it and strengthen ourselves. We will have to fight it because if we do not do it now, today we have lost one Arun, tomorrow it could be another Arun...the killers should also go, we have to set such an example”.

Asked about his remarks, the Minister today said, “What has been published in one of the newspapers is false. I had not taken the name of any community. I had said that the culprits, who had murdered the VHP leader, should be given death sentence. I had also said that the Hindu community should unite for their safety. I will send a notice to the newspaper.”

Addressing the gathering, Babu Lal had said, “If the Muslims have something in their mind, then draw a line and you will see the strength of the Hindu community”.

The BJP MP today justified his remarks and demanded that Uttar Pradesh government take action to rein in such elements so that similar incidents do not recur.

He claimed that the VHP leader had lodged a police complaint that he was receiving death threats and his store was also set blaze.

“When such an incident will take place, will the Hindu community sit and watch the drama, will it not take action...  then such incidents will keep on happening,” Lal said.

Opposition parties reacted sharply to the remarks by BJP leaders with Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge alleging that BJP and RSS had plans to divide the country.

“They speak whenever elections are nearing. They talk about dividing the country and not uniting. If they continue to speak like this, there will be repercussions across the country. Today we are raising this issue because Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are silent on this issue,” he said.

Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, said that he is not surprised by the remarks of the Union Minister.

“This has been the continuous, consistent and obnoxious behavior by the Modi government. I am sure that no action will be taken,” he said.

Owaisi added that this “was good because the real agenda of the government is being exposed”.

“Their real agenda is to promote Hinduvta. A Minister speaking such language clearly shows that he went to Agra not for condolence meeting but to create communal mayhem there,” Owaisi said.

BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said the Minister has clarified his remarks. “Katheria has made it clear in his statement that he has said nothing wrong. And after this clarification, there is nothing to comment on.”

Union Minister Kalraj Mishra said the “tragic” murder of the VHP leader highlighted the poor law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh  but cautioned against “reactions which trigger violence and unrest”.

“The law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh is really bad, due to which neither the common man nor political leaders are safe. The murder of a VHP leader is tragic. People have reacted (to it). We certainly don’t want reactions which trigger violence and unrest,” Mishra said.

A group of social activists today held a protest at Jantar Mantar here against the alleged hate speeches BJP MPs.

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First Published : 01 Mar 2016, 11:43:00 PM

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