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Kapil Sibal said PM Narendra Modi should not just quote Mahatma Gandhi but follow him in letter and spirit. Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/Mint
Kapil Sibal said PM Narendra Modi should not just quote Mahatma Gandhi but follow him in letter and spirit. Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/Mint

Opposition targets govt over lynchings, says PM indulging in ‘double-speak’

The opposition took aim at the government over lynchings in the country, with the Congress accusing PM Narendra Modi of 'creating such an environment'

New Delhi: The opposition on Thursday targeted the government over instances of lynchings in the country, with the Congress accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “creating such an environment" and indulging in “double speak" on the issue.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha on the lynchings, alleged that the prime minister was doing nothing to restrain cow vigilantes who, he said, include elements from VHP and Bajrang Dal. He was participating in a discussion on the “situation arising out of the reported increase in the incidents of lynching and atrocities on minorities and Dalits across the country", which started on Wednesday. Sibal said 2017 has witnessed maximum murders and the cattle ban had negatively impacted leather industry besides industries like soap and shampoo. “I am shaken and shattered by the images of grotesque violence and heart-wrenching scenes (which) I have seen on social media and Twitter. We did not see it in the last 50 years," he said.

He went on to question, “What is the sentiment behind it? Why 97% of the violence has taken place after 2017?" Targeting the prime minister, he said it was Modi who had “provoked" such sentiments and quoted his three speeches on 8 October 2015, 6 August 2016 and 29 June 2017. Sibal said that in one of the speeches, the PM had said that some people were involved in the crime during night and during the day they converted into “gau-rakshaks" but no action was taken against such people. “It is the PM whose statement is different during night and different during day... It is PM who is creating such environment. It is better to stop double speak and come clean," the Congress leader said.

He said the prime minister should not just quote Mahatma Gandhi but follow him in letter and spirit. Sibal said the VHP has announced creating a “holy army of gau-rakshaks" and recruited 2,700 people. “These are recruited by VHP and trained by Bajrang Dal," he said and questioned, “Why doesn’t he (PM) say that VHP and Bajrang Dal were anti-social? He gets political support for elections. Hindutva ideology has created a reign of terror," Sibal said. He said the fight today is between “fake" and “real" Hindu. He said the house needs to rise to stop hooligans who were out to destroy peace and tranquillity of the nation.

The Congress leader alleged that government was not able to even take care of cows as 50 cows had lost their lives in Haryana as they were not taken care of. Raising a point of order, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Sibal should authenticate the three statements of the PM which he quoted, else these should be expunged. He also objected to mention of VHP and Bajrang Dal, saying it is the practice not to mention those who are absent from the floor of the house and cannot defend themselves.

Naresh Gujral (SAD), while participating in the debate, urged the members to refrain from giving political colour to incidents in a land where Buddha and Mahavir spread the message of tolerance. Asserting that goondaism cannot be tolerated, he said the government could talk to the Chief Justice of India for creating special court for speedy trial of lynching cases, which amounted to acts like “terrorism". He said it was time that this “madness" was brought to an end as people are becoming reluctant to come and invest in India in such an atmosphere.

Attacking the government, Sharad Yadav (JDU) said the incidents of lynching were more deadly than killings by Talibans and Afghans. When religion overtakes politics or vise-versa, internal conflicts are created, he said and pointed towards Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria. Yadav said, “It is unfortunate that such a condition has been created in the country that a student from JNU goes traceless, people are lynched in the name of cow and condition has become so bad that people are afraid of travelling in buses and trains." He said BJP-ruled states were witnessing maximum cases of lynching. Such incidents occurred in 14 districts of Jharkhand, 11 districts of UP, 9 districts of Haryana, 5 districts of Rajasthan and 4 districts each of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, Yadav said.

Alleging that laws were being trampled, he asked the government to take “corrective measures as the minority community of India has chosen the country to live and die here".

“Don’t provoke him. Stop this drama," he said and alleged that livestock was being destroyed on the one side and 12,000 farmers were committing suicide in the country on the other.

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