Naqvi denies Alwar lynching; Rahul takes barb at Modi

New Delhi/Alwar
6 Apr 2017

The lynching of a Muslim man by cow vigilantes in Alwar in Rajasthan snowballed into a political row today with Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi saying no such incident, as was being presented, had happened and the Congress questioning his remark. The three men arrested in connection with the brutal attack on 55-year-old Pehlu Khan and others on suspicions they were smuggling cows on Saturday were, meanwhile, remanded to police custody for a day by an Alwar court. Khan succumbed to his injuries on Monday night. "We had produced the accused Vipin Yadav (19), Ravindra Yadav (30) of Behror and Kalu Ram (44) of Ratanpura at a local court which sent them for a day s police remand," Alwar SP Rahul Prakash told PTI, adding that teams have fanned out in the hunt for the other accused. A murder case has been booked against the three accused. As the incident generated heat in both houses of Parliament, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the RSS, saying there is no place in the country for those disagreeing with them and that tragedies of huge proportion occur when government "abdicates responsibility". Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Gandhi charged that the prime minister is propagating a vision where only one idea will prevail. Members in the Rajya Sabha expressed grave concern over the killing with Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asking the government to probe it and inform the House about the facts. Amid contradictory statements about the alleged incident by the Opposition and the Government, Kurien said the Chair has to be convinced whether the issue raised by Congress member Madhusudan Mistry was true or not. During the Zero Hour, Mistry said there was a "complete breakdown of law and order" in Rajasthan as "a gang of gau-rakshaks (cow vigilantes)" stopped a truck carrying cattle and mercilessly thrashed four of its occupants after letting off the "Hindu" driver. As members of other opposition parties supported him, Mistry said similar incidents were taking place in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat as also Uttar Pradesh, all ruled by BJP. Squarely rejecting the allegations, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was a very sensitive issue, but "no such incident has happened, the way the matter is being presented here." "A message should not be sent out that the House supports cow slaughter," he said, and added that "the state government has refuted (the allegations). We do not justify hooliganism". To this, Leader of Oppositon and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "I am extremely sorry that the minister is so ill-informed. Even the New York Times has reported (on it) and the minister does not know...I have not come across such an insensitive government". As treasury and opposition benches indulged in heated exchanges, Kurien said he cannot go by newspaper reports. "The Minister said no such incident happened," he said, and added that there were two versions of the incident which have been brought before him. The Deputy Chairman said if such an incident has happened, then it is a serious matter and if it has not happened and has been said in the House, then too it is a serious matter. "Let me know whether it is a fact or not. I am asking the Minister to convey to the Home Minister to inquire and give a report to the House. I want to know the truth of it," Kurien said. Naqvi later said action was being taken against the accused and that he was in no way condoning the violence. Congress members attacked the BJP in the Lok Sabha, saying the Constitution was being violated in the name of cow protection in the states ruled by the saffron party. Defending the Rajasthan government, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it has taken cognisance of the incident and action as per law would be taken. Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge targeted Rajasthan's home minister for his comments that both sides, the accused and the victims, had done something wrong and there was nothing wrong in people stopping cow smuggling. Kharge said the victim was a dairy farmer. As some BJP members tried to interrupt him, he lashed out, saying they must keep quiet as the law was being broken. Earlier in a series of tweets, Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Rajasthan government for the "brutal and senseless attack" in Alwar. "When Government abdicates responsibility and allows lynch mobs to rule, tragedies of immense proportion follow. Shocking breakdown of law and order in Alwar," he said. He said all right thinking Indians must condemn this "blind brutality" and hoped the state government will take strict action against those responsible for the "senseless attack". Gandhi said, "We expect Government to take strict action against those responsible for this brutal and senseless attack." Talking to reporters, Kharge accused Hindutva organisations like RSS and VHP of creating an atmosphere of discord with incidents like which happened in Alwar. (PTI)