Washington: Post 26/11, a section of the Congress leadership was seen playing religious politics after one of its leaders, A R Antulay, implied that Hindutva forces may have been involved in the Mumbai terror attacks, according to a confidential memo by the then US ambassador to India, David Mulford, released by WikiLeaks.
“The Congress Party, after first distancing itself from the comments (of Antulay, the then minority affairs minister), two days later issued a contradictory statement which implicitly endorsed the conspiracy. During this time, Antulay’s completely unsubstantiated claims gained support in ... Indian-Muslim community,” Mulford wrote in his secret cable to the state department on 23 December, 2008.
“Hoping to foster that support for upcoming national elections, the Congress Party cynically pulled back from its original dismissal and lent credence to the conspiracy,” Mulford wrote.
Regardless of home minister P Chidambaram’s dismissal of Antulay’s comments, the Indian-Muslim community “will continue to believe they are unfairly targeted by law enforcement and that those who investigate the truth are silenced,” he said in the cable.
“The entire episode demonstrates that the Congress Party will readily stoop to the old caste/religious-based politics if it feels it is in its interest,” Mulford alleged, according to the cable posted by WikiLeaks on its website yesterday.
The United States has neither confirmed or denied the authenticity of these cables, but said that some 250,000 papers have been stolen from its system and demanded that WikiLeaks, the whistle blower website, return them back to the State Department.
According to WikiLeaks, there are some 1,300 cables from the US embassy in New Delhi. However, only half a dozen of them have been posted by it on its website.
Mulford said while the killing of three high-level law enforcement officers during the Mumbai attacks, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, “is a remarkable coincidence, the Congress Party’s initial reaction to Antulay’s outrageous comments was correct.”
“But as support seemed to swell among Muslims for Antulay’s unsubstantiated claims, crass political opportunism swayed the thinking of some Congress Party leaders,” he wrote.