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With the Congress on Saturday alleging that one of the main accused in the killing of a tailor in Udaipur is a “BJP member”, and asking whether the Centre had moved quickly to transfer the case to NIA due to this reason, senior BJP leader and former Rajasthan minister Gulab Chand Kataria said it is not in the hands of political leaders to select who clicks a picture with them at a public event.
Pictures of accused Mohammad Riyaz have surfaced on social media with some state BJP workers, including Kataria, the Leader of Opposition in Assembly.
In New Delhi, Congress media and publicity department chairman Pawan Khera cited the social media posts to allege that Riyaz is a BJP worker. Among others, Khera cited a November 2019 post by BJP member Mohammad Tahir, who referred to Riyaz as a “BJP worker”.
“It is being said that there is a photo of one of the Udaipur criminals with me. I have been working with BJP since 1974 and have been an MLA and a minister, too,” Kataria said, indicating the need for his presence at different public events.
In Jaipur, state president of BJP’s minority cell, M Sadiq Khan, and the cell’s national vice-president Husain Khan told the media that no person accused in the Udaipur killing has “any association with any BJP worker”.
Kataria said BJP has an “authorised” minority cell, and the image that has surfaced shows Riyaz with Irshad Chainwala, who has been a party minority cell worker. “I have been in (their) programmes as well, and my presence at a minority cell programme is not a crime,” Kataria said. “I would have certainly gone to the programme and who stands with me in a photo is not in my hands, or in anyone else’s (hands).”
In the image concerned, Kataria is seen flanked by Chainwala and Riyaz.
“Even after that, if someone feels that a crime has been committed, then I want a criminal case to be lodged against me as well, and if the law considers my picture with him a crime, then take action against me. I will have no objection,” Kataria said.
“As far as going to BJP’s minority cell programmes is concerned, it is my responsibility as a BJP worker, and it is necessary that I continue to go and have gone (to the events) before.”
Arguing on similar lines, BJP’s Sadiq Khan said, “If someone gets a photo clicked, it does not mean that person has our party’s membership. Gulab-ji (Kataria) is our universally respected leader and if someone wants to get a photo (clicked) with him, he can’t be told no.”
Khan also said that with the availability of internet services and mobile phones, “people want to get photos with big leaders and make them go viral.”
In Jaipur, state MoS (Home) Rajendra Singh Yadav claimed that Riyaz had been Kataria’s “polling agent”.
Addressing the media in Delhi, Khera alleged that Riyaz Atari, one of the accused in the case, was an active member of the BJP.
He claimed that Atari had attended many programmes of Kataria.
Khera also said the Congress has found past Facebook posts of Chainwala and Mohammad Tahir, “associated with BJP’s minority cell”, mentioning Attari. He read out a post, which he claimed was that of Tahir, in which he is calling Attari a BJP worker when the latter had gone to perform Umra in Mecca in October 2019.
“Riyaz Attari, the killer of Kanhaiya Lal, is an active member of the BJP,” Khera alleged.
He said: “The Union Home Ministry announced a probe by NIA within hours of the gruesome incident at Udaipur. The Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan accepted it, but now I ask whether this was meant to cover up BJP connections of the accused.”
– With ENS, Delhi
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