Ghaziabad/New Delhi: Union Minister V K Singh on Thursday kicked up a storm with his comments that the Centre cannot be blamed if somebody throws a stone at a dog to shield it from criticism for the Faridabad Dalit burning incident, prompting opposition demands for his ouster.
"See, the thing is, never associate local incidents with the Central government (sarkar). There is an inquiry going on. There was a dispute between families. The dispute...how did it turn out...where did the administration fail, after these it come to the Centre.
"For everything...like if somebody throws a stone at a dog, then the government is responsible...it is not like that," Singh said in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, the constituency he represents in Parliament, while referring to the burning alive of a Dalit family in Haryana's Faridabad which left two toddlers dead on the intervening night of October 19-20.
The comments of Singh, Union Minister of State for External affairs, drew sharp criticism from the opposition, including the Congress, which demanded his immediate sacking. "It is condemnable, it is shocking, it is inhumane to say the least. General V K Singh has insulted not only the entire Dalit community of this country but all Indians. It reflects the mindset of the Modi government which insults Dalits, which insults the minorities and looks down upon the people who are poor and downtrodden," Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said in Delhi.
He demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sack him and tender an apology on Singh's behalf. Surjewala said a criminal case should be registered against the minister under Prevention of Atrocities on Schedule Castes Act.
Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari described the dog analogy used by Singh as 'preposterous and abominable'. "....comparing the death of two little children who were burnt alive to possibly the stoning of a dog...what could be more preposterous and abominable than that. This reflects the mindset of the government. To recall the Prime Minister of India made a similar analogy about two years back in an interview to Reuters when he said that if a pup gets crushed under the wheels of a car that needs to be emphasised too. That remark was in the context of the Gujarat pogrom," he said.
Singh, however, later clarified his statement was not intended to draw an analogy between the Faridabad incident and stoning of a dog. "My statement wasn't intended 2draw an analogy. My men & I put our lives on the line 4the nation irrespective of caste,creed & religion," he tweeted. "As citizens of this gr8 nation v r sensitive but also responsible.Agenda of India is bigger than any single neighborhood or individual," he said in another tweet.
CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat described Singh's remarks as 'arrogance of casteism' and demanded registration of a criminal case against him. "His statement is a clear casteist statement and it comes under the provisions of the prevention of crime against SC Act. Therefore, this gentleman has to be booked under the Act for casteism and casteist comments.
"Secondly, how can such a man remain in the Central Cabinet. Of course, we all know that Modiji at one time had talked about puppies in relation to a particular community. But at least now that he is Prime Minister, hopefully he will get over his own prejudices and take action against his person," she said.
She said regardless of caste, the Faridabad incident had outraged the entire country.
Karat alleged Singh was trying to influence the investigation by calling it a fallout of personal dispute. "He is a Central Minister, a central agency is investigating it, how can he already prejudge the issue and call it a personal dispute and thereby influence the investigation," she said.