The BJP on Monday targeted Rahul Gandhi for referring to Jaish-e-Mohammed chief as â€œMasood Azahr jiâ€, saying that it showed Congress chiefâ€™s â€œlove for terroristsâ€.
Addressing a meeting of Congress workers here, Gandhi attacked the BJP, saying, "These people with 56 inch chest, you would recall, in their previous government, the current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval went in an aircraft with Masood Azhar ji and handed over Masood Azhar there in Kandhar."
Targeting the Congress chief, BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Come on Rahul Gandhi Ji! Earlier it was the likes of Digvijay Ji who called Osama Ji and Hafiz Saeed Sahab. Now you are saying 'Masood Azhar Ji'. What is happening to Congress Party?"
Sharing a six-second video of Rahul on Twitter, Union minister Smriti Irani wrote: â€œWhat is common between Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan? Their love for terrorists. Please note Rahul jiâ€™s reverence for terrorist Masood Azhar - a testimony to #RahulLovesTerrorists.â€
What is common between Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan?â€” Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 11, 2019
Their love for terrorists.
Please note Rahul jiâ€™s reverence for terrorist Masood Azhar - a testimony to #RahulLovesTerrorists pic.twitter.com/CyqoZ7b9CF
The 6-second video clip shared by Irani is part of a video where Rahul Gandhi can be heard saying â€œMasood Azhar jiâ€ as he attacks BJP and NSA Ajit Doval while referring to the release of the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief in 1999.
"Nation is shocked Rahul Gandhi addressed a terrorist Masood Azhar with respect.Families of martyrs&ppl who lost their relatives in terrorist attacks want to ask him,why so much respect for a terrorist?Why he calls the Army chief a 'gunda' while respects a terrorist?," she said.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra also attacked Rahul saying: â€œAll abuses for Modi and All â€œJiâ€™sâ€ for Masood Azhar, Osama Bin Laden, Hafeez Sayed. No wonder Hafeez Sayed says Congress is the best party in India.â€
Rahul Gandhi made the purported remark while addressing partyâ€™s booth workers in Delhi.
The Congress chief said 40 CRPF personnel were killed in the Pulwama terror attack carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammed whose chief Masood Azhar was released from jail by the BJP.
Soon after, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala rushed to firefight the controversy. In his tweet, Surjewala accused the BJP and the media of knowingly making an issue out of the 'ji' honorific for Masood Azhar, adding that it was sarcastic.
â€œ2 questions to BJP & select Bhakt Media,who deliberately seek to twist the â€˜Masoodâ€™ sarcasm of Rahulji-: 1 Did NSA Doval not escort & release terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandahar? 2 Did Modiji not invite Pak's rogue ISI to investigate Pathankot terror attack #BJPLovesTerroristsâ€ he tweeted.
Azhar and two other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, were released from Indian prison in 1999 by the then BJP-led government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in exchange for the passengers held hostage on board IC-814 flight hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Azhar formed JeM after his release from jail.
Since then, JeM, based in Pakistan, has been involved in terrorist attacks in India.
The group was responsible for the attack on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 in which nine security personnel and officials were killed.
On January 2, 2016, a heavily armed group of JeM attacked the Pathankot airbase in which seven security personnel were killed.
JeM also carried out the attack on Uri brigade headquarters on September 18, 2016, killing 17 soldiers and injuring 30 others. And the latest Pulwama attack.Â