The opposition today attacked the government over recent lynchings in the name of cow protection with the Congress accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of double speak and not doing enough to rein in the vigilantes. Congress leader Kapil Sibal, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha on the lynching issue, said, “It is the PM whose statement is different during night and different during day…It is the PM who is creating such an environment. It is better to stop double speak and come clean.”
He was participating in a discussion on the ‘situation arising out of the reported increase in the incidents of lynching and arocities on minorities and Dalits across the country’ which started yesterday. Sibal alleged that Modi was doing nothing to restrain cow vigilantes who, he said, include elements from the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. He said the year 2017 has witnessed maximum murders and the cattle ban had negatively impacted the leather industry, besides companies manufacturing soap and shampoo.
“I am shaken and shattered by the images of grotesque violence and heart-wrenching scenes (which) I have seen on social media and Twitter. We did not see it in the last 50 years,” he said. He went on to question, “What is the sentiment behind it? Why 97 per cent of the violence has taken place after 2017?” Targeting the prime minister, he said it was Modi who had “provoked” such sentiments and quoted his three speeches on October 8, 2015, August 6, 2016 and June 29, 2017.
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Sibal said paradoxically in one of the speeches, the PM had said that some people were involved in the crime during night and during the day they converted into ‘gaurakshaks’, but no action was taken against such people. He said the prime minister should not just quote Mahatma Gandhi, but follow him in letter and spirit. Sibal said the VHP has announced creating a “holy army of gaurakshaks” and recruited 2,700 people.
“These are recruited by the VHP and trained by the Bajrang Dal,” he said and questioned, “Why doesn’t he (PM) say that the VHP and the Bajrang Dal were anti-social? He gets political support for elections. Hindutva ideology has created a reign of terror,” he said. He said the fight today is between the “fake” and the “real” Hindu. He said the House needs to rise to stop hooligans who were out to destroy peace and tranquility of the nation.
The Congress leader alleged that government was not able to even take care of cows as 50 cows had died in Haryana as they were not looked after well. Raising a point of order, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Sibal should authenticate three statements of the PM which he quoted, else these should be expunged.
He also objected to mention of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, saying it was the practice not to mention those who were not there in the House and could not defend themselves. Naresh Gujral (SAD) urged the members to refrain from giving a political colour to incidents in a land where Buddha and Mahavir spread the message of tolerance. Asserting that goondaism could not be tolerated, he said the governemnt could talk to the chief justice of Iindia for creating special courts for speedy trial of lynching cases, which amounted to acts like “terrorism”.
He said it was time that this “madness” was brought to an end as people are becoming reluctant to come and invest in India in such an atmosphere. Attacking the government, Sharad Yadav (JDU) said the incidents of lynching were more deadly than killings by the Taliban and Afghans.
When religion overtakes poltics or vise versa, internal conflicts are created, he said and pointed towards Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria. Yadav said, “it is unfortunate that such a condition has been created in the country that a student from the JNU goes traceless, people are lynched in the name of cow and condition has become so bad that people are afraid of travelling in buses and trains.” He said BJP-ruled states were witnessing maximum cases of lynching. Such incidents occurred in 14 districts of Jharkhand, 11 districts of UP, 9 districts of Haryana, 5 districts of Rajasthan and 4 districts each of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, he said.
Alleging that laws were being trampled, he asked the government to take “corrective measures as the minority community of India has chosen the country to live and die here”. “Don’t provoke him. Stop this drama,” he said and alleged that livestock was being destroyed on the one side and 12,000 farmers were committing suicide in the country on the other side. Attacking the opposition for linking lynching incidents with the RSS, Prabhat Jha (BJP) said “this is not fair” as the Sangh has played a key role in the country’s development.
Referring to the Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remark against the RSS made in the House yesterday, Jha said, “You may not know about the Sangh. You might have read about it from papers. We have been part of the Sangh. I am compelled to share what is the Sangh all about.” He said a group of 3,000-odd RSS members were invited to participate in the 1963 Republic Day parade by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
“Many do not know about this. The RSS was invited for its contribution. You should not level charges against the Sangh when you don’t know about it,” he said and asked them to show “magnanimity” in politics. Urging the opposition not to do “politics in the name of the Sangh,” Jha sought to know why the Congress was silent on the issue of separate state flag been demanded in Karnataka.
He said the country belongs to all and everyone should take equal responsibility. Asking the opposition not to be selective in mentioning the lynching incidents, Union Minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javedekar said any such crime should not only be condemned, but should be stopped. “We will not tolerate lynching… Don’t walk on the path of defaming the nation’s image with these incidents. One should not be victim of selective amnesia and see the incidents with political eye,” he said.
States, be it BJP or non-BJP ruled, should take stringent action against those involved in lynching, he said as he listed out 2012 and 2013 lynching incidents. Targeting the Congress, Javadekar said burning of 3,000- odd Sikhs in the 1984 riots was “one of the biggest lynching incidents in India’s history”. “Even killing of 59 devotees of Ram in Godhra train burning in 2002 was also lynching,” he said. In 2012, 25 people were killed in 16 lynching incidents in eight states, while 18 were killed in 14 such incidents occured in 2013 in six states, the minister added.
Reacting to Javedekar’s remark, Azad said, “If the education minister has such a thinking, we can very well imagine what kind of education is and will be imparted in the country.” He attacked the HRD minister for putting things in a selective manner, saying that it was Congress that had contributed to the making of the country.
“We, Congress, have contributed to the making of the country. You were with British. We have given our blood for the nation. Have you taken a contract for making of Bharat?” he said and staged a walkout. The JD(U), the SP, the BSP and Left members also staged a walkout on this issue. They all returned after 10 minutes.
D Raja (CPI) said lynching is a societal problem and the centre should frame a separate law to prevent such incidents rather than asking states to contain. There is a need to understand that a “dangerous” trend is uprising with ‘mob lynching’ — which is part of “Bhramanical fascism” and “part of an ideology and political theory” — taking over the political structure, he said. No arrests been made and even accused are acquitted in the recent incidents, he said and emphasised the need to put in place a central law to curb such elements.
K T S Tusli (nominated) demanded ban of the communal organisations involved in lynchings. No law has been enforced to contain these incidents, which are more in BJP ruled states, he said, quoting a study that found 32 out 63 cases were in BJP-ruled states. Rajeev Chandrashekar (Ind) said that sentiments of Hindus are as important as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. If the sentiments of a large community are hurt then those should be addressed. He also talked about the prevailing “double standard of polity” while highlighting the killings of BJP workers in Karnataka and Kerala, and urged to the Opposition parties to stop the “hypocracy”.
Congress member Kumari Selja said every Indian feels sad that the country was being described as “Lynchistan” and it was a matter of shame for all. She said an atmosphere of fear was being created on the basis of an ideology and such incidents were taking place on a daily basis. Pointing towards the treasury benches, Ali Anwar Ansari of the JD (U) said the “disease called lynching is an outcome of your party’s (BJP) ideology.”
In an apparent reference to the BJP, K K Ragesh of the CPI (M) said it was dividing people on communal lines and has attained momentum in states like Gujarat by the politics of spitting communal venom which is the basis of mob lynching. He said the BJP was targeting Kerala with the same divisive momentum and spitting communal venom. Hearing this, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised an objection saying Ragesh was “insinuating” in the Upper House. Other BJP members including Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also stood up and objected to the remarks made by Ragesh.
TKS Elangovan of the DMK said mob lynching is not acceptable and alleged that the mobs or groups resorting to such acts have the support of some Hindutva group. He further said it was not about the RSS or VHP but about people who claim they are committing violent acts in the name of Hindutva.