New Delhi, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Friday did a u-turn on the lynching of a dairy farmer by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan, saying a “criminal is a criminal” and the incident should not be looked at from the prism of religion — a day after he denied the violence ever took place.
As soon as the Rajya Sabha met in the morning, opposition members created a ruckus over the incident in Rajasthan’s Alwar last week and sought an apology from Naqvi, also Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, for misleading the Rajya Sabha.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government was “undermining the position of the Rajya Sabha”.
“This government should take this House seriously,” Azad said, as Congress MPs gathered near the Chairman’s podium, demanding adjournment. However, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien rejected the demand.
Naqvi on Thursday told the House no such incident had taken place after Congress’ Madhusudan Mistry said vigilantes in Alwar beat up five people who were carrying cows and calves in two trucks over the weekend. One of them died later.
On Friday, Naqvi clarified that he had denied any such violence had taken place in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
“We do not justify anarchy and hooliganism,” he said, adding that an FIR has been registered against six persons in Alwar.
“A criminal, a murderer, a hooligan, or a rowdy should not be looked at as a Hindu or a Muslim. A criminal is a criminal,” Naqvi told the House amid the din.
Congress MPs continued slogan shouting till Azad asked them to return to their seats.
The Congress leader castigated the government and said Home Minister Rajnath Singh had spoken in the Lok Sabha on Thursday over the issue.
The Home Minister, he said, should have also made a statement in the Upper House.
“This is unjust,” Azad said, adding the government was speaking in two languages.
“Home Minister Rajnath Singh admitted in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that the incident happened whereas the Minister (Naqvi) said that it didn’t.”
The Congress leader also raised doubts over the intention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on dealing with the self-styled cow vigilantes.
“He (Modi) criticised them using very strong words but it seems the Bharatiya Janata Party has told them to do whatever they wanted to,” he added.
Naqvi replied saying the Home Minister will make a statement on the issue in the house on Monday.
The lynching incident occurred on Saturday when a group of self-styled cow vigilantes allegedly attacked dairy farmer Pehlu Khan and four others when they were travelling in trucks in Behror area of Alwar.
Khan and others were carrying cows and calves they had bought from a cattle fair. The attackers accused them of illegally smuggling cows for slaughter. However, Khan’s family said he had bought the animals for his small dairy business and had documents to prove it.