Updated: November 16, 2021 7:43:33 am
A part of the house of senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid in Uttarakhand’s Nainital district was vandalised and set on fire on Monday afternoon, the police said. No one was injured, they added.
The incident comes days after Khurshid’s new book on Ayodhya created a row by drawing a parallel between “Hindutva” and radical Islamist groups.
The caretaker of the house informed police that 15-20 people barged into the premises and vandalised the windows and flowerpots, before setting fire to the gate with diesel fuel, senior officers said, quoting the complaint.
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Late Monday evening, police were in the process of filing an FIR under IPC Sections 147 (rioting) 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) and 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint).
Police said teams have been formed to identify and arrest the accused.
Khurshid’s residence is located in Satkhol village, under the jurisdiction of Mukteshwar police station of Nainital.
Posting images and videos of the vandalism and arson, Khurshid wrote on Facebook, “I hoped to open these doors to my friends who have left this calling card. Am I still wrong to say this cannot be Hinduism?…. So such is debate now. Shame is too ineffective a word. Besides I still hope that we can reason together one day and agree to disagree if not more.”
DIG (Kumaon Range) Nilesh Anand Bharney told The Indian Express that they received a complaint from caretaker Sundar Ram and an FIR is under process against a local resident identified as Rakesh Kapil and several other unidentified people.
He denied reports that the name of a right-wing organisation has come forward.
Nainital SP (City) Jagdish Chandra said a group of people were protesting against Khurshid and burning his effigies at a distance, and that some of the accused in the case of vandalism and arson were part of that protest group.
SP Chandra said Sundar Ram has alleged that 15 to 20 people barged into the premises, misbehaved with those present and hurled abuses before using diesel fuel to set fire. “The accused also vandalised the windows. A group of people were burning effigy at some distance, and some of them came to the house. They had diesel with them and that was used to start the fire in the house,” he said.
Chandra said other members of the same group helped douse the flames. He added that the caretaker and his family were present in the house when the incident took place.
Calling it “disgraceful”, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “Salman Khurshid is a statesman who has done India proud in international forums &always articulated a moderate, centrist, inclusive vision of the country domestically. The mounting levels of intolerance in our politics should be denounced by those in power.”
Recently, Khurshid sparked a controversy by comparing a “robust version of Hindutva” to Islamist terror groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram in his book Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times. The Congress has distanced itself from the comparison.
Earlier on Monday, senior Congress leader and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said that he is proud of his religion and respect others’ right to be proud of their dharma, and that he disagrees with Khurshid’s views on this.
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