Mounting a direct attack on the Congress Friday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh accused the previous UPA government of coining the term “Hindu terrorism” and said this had “weakened” the country’s fight against terror and diverted the direction of investigation into acts of terror.
Making a statement in Lok Sabha on the July 27 terror attack in Gurdaspur, Singh referred to a range of issues to highlight what he called Congress failures — from the meeting at Sharm-el Sheikh to the statements at the Havana NAM summit and the 1962 war with China.
“In this House in 2013, the then Home Minister had coined the new terminology ‘Hindu terrorism’ in order to change the direction of probe. It weakened our fight. As a consequence, (Lashkar founder) Hafiz Saeed of Pakistan had congratulated the then Home Minister. Our government will never allow such a shameful situation again,” he said after reading a written statement.
“Terrorism is terrorism, it does not have any caste, creed or religion,” he said.
The remarks stunned the Congress members who had suspended their protest following criticism by BJP ministers that the party was indulging in petty politics on issues of national interest.
An upset Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader in the House, rose to speak but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not let him despite requests from party leaders.
Congress members rushed to the well to resume their protest, demanding the resignation of BJP ministers at the centre of controversies. This appeared to have irked the Home Minister who rose again to speak on the matter.
“I am sure no one wants to deny that terrorism is the biggest challenge before us, that this House should be seen as divided on the issue.
On the one hand, our jawans are making the supreme sacrifice while fighting against terror. On the other hand, we have this noise and disruption. How can the country accept this,” he said, adding “our government and Prime Minister are constantly making efforts to deal with the challenge”.
Not allowed to respond to Singh’s remarks, Kharge dropped the rule book on the table and said: “This is very unfortunate. You are losing our respect. You are asking us to follow rules, but not going by rules.”
Earlier in the day, when the Lok Sabha met, the Speaker dismissed adjournment notices given by Congress and Left MPs on different issues and took up Question Hour. Congress members ran to the well carrying placards, bigger than the ones they were carrying Thursday, and tried to block cameras which were focused on either the Speaker or the minister who was replying to questions.
With the Congress MPs trying to block all four cameras facing the chair, the Speaker warned them repeatedly that she would name the MPs. But the MPs stood in the well, shouting slogans and urging the Prime Minister to “break silence and talk on the scams.”
Speaking to reporters later on the Home Minister’s statement, Congress leader Anand Sharma said terrorism has no caste or religion.
“The RSS and BJP have always tried to link terrorism to religion and caste and it raises questions on India’s secularism. The reality is that people of different religions are associated with terrorism. You cannot say that terror outfits and terrorists operating from across the border are bad and those (terrorists) who are here are alright,” Sharma said.
“Violence, from wherever it originates… it is duty of the government to tackle it firmly and take action. It should not try to identify terrorists according to their religion. The BJP should say what its government is doing now instead of reminding and recalling what happened before,” he said.