Triggering a controversy, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Salman Khurshid, while responding to a question on the communal riots that took place when the Congress was in power, admitted that “there is blood on our hands”.
Khurshid made the remarks while addressing students at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Sunday. While Khurshid on Tuesday accused the media of distorting his reply, the Congress said it “completely disagrees” with his statement.
At the AMU function, a student listed some of the riots — in Hashimpura, Maliana and Muzaffarnagar — and the opening of the gates of the Babri Masjid, installation of idols and its subsequent demolition, which happened when the Congress was in power. He asked how the Congress would wash off the “Muslim blood on its hands”.
“Political question hain. Humare daaman par khoon ke dhabbe hain. Congress ka main bhi hissa hoon to mujhe maanne dijiye ki humare daaman main khoon ke dhabbe hain (It is a political question. There is blood on our hands. I am also a part of the Congress so let me admit that we have blood on our hands),” replied Khurshid.
He asserted that that was not a reason why his party should not come forward to protect Muslims in case of attacks against them. “Is vajay se aap humse keh rahe hain ki ab koi waar aap par kare to humme badkar usko rokna nahin chahiye (Because of that you are telling us that if someone attacks you, we must not come forward to protect you),” he said.
“Bata raha hoon na. Hum yeh dhabbe dikhayenge, ki tum samjho ki yeh dhabbe hum par lage hain, yeh dhabbe tumpe na lage. Tum waar inpe karoge, dhabbe tumhare lagenge (I am telling you. We will show the (blood) stains, so that you realise that you must not get blood on your hands. If you attack them, you are the ones who will be stained),” he said.
“Learn from our history and understand. And don’t create such situations for yourself where, if you come back to Aligarh University after 10 years, you will find no one like yourself asking questions,” he said.
As his comments triggered a controversy, Khurshid tweeted on Tuesday: “Media saddens. They question right to speak truth. They distort reply to isolated hostile question by imputing confession instead of reporting ‘despite allegations would you deny our duty to protect you from harm?’ Sensationalism for profit?”
Speaking to reporters, Khurshid said he never said the Congress party’s hands were stained with blood. “Somebody accused me and my party, and I gave a reply,” he said.
The Congress said it disagreed with Khurshid. “Salman Khurshid is a senior leader. But as far as his statement is concerned, the Congress party completely disagrees with his statement. It may be his personal opinion. The Congress party has nothing to do with it,” party leader P L Punia told reporters at the AICC press conference.
“The Congress party disagrees with the statement of Salman Khurshid in toto. Everyone must know that both before and after independence, the Congress is the only party which has worked towards building an egalitarian society by carrying all sections of the people together, including SCs, STs, the poor as also religious and ethnic minorities,” he said.
“As these intrinsic foundational values are under attack today by Modi government, all leaders must remember that such unfounded statements only help the cause of those in power today, who seek to divide society on caste and communal lines to retain and attain power at any cost,” he said.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesman Anil Baluni said: “Today seems to be that one day out of 365 when the Congress has decided to speak the truth. Salman Khurshid has admitted a dark truth of the Congress — that the Congress has the blood of Muslims on their hands. In fact, the Congress has the blood of all faiths on their hands. We saw the Qatl-e-Aam in 1984, we also saw, time and again, how their vote bank politics has led to the killing of several Hindus… The politics of pseudo secularism has its limitations and the Congress is realising this.”