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Chandigarh/New Delhi: Finding himself cornered over his controversial statement on consumption of beef, especially by Muslims, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday offered his “regrets”, as the Center sidestepped the issue and the opposition flayed him and even demanded his sacking.
The controversy erupted after Khattar was quoted by an English daily on Friday as saying that “Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef as the cow is an article of faith here”.
“Haryana Chief Minister Mr. Manohar Lal has denied having made any such statement and said that his words and sentiments have been distorted,” an official statement said.
A political greenhorn and first-time legislator, Khattar completes one year in office as chief minister on October 26.
The statement was made in the context of the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri district of Uttar Pradesh on September 28 by a mob on suspicion that he ate beef.
But once Khattar’s recorded interview (in audio) was released by the daily and played by news channels, making it clear he indeed made the controversial statement, Khattar told the media here: “However, even if you believe that if any of the words were spoken by me, there was no intention (of hurting anyone’s sentiments). If anyone’s sentiments are hurt by my statements, I am ready to offer my regrets for this.”
“We understand and respect the feelings of every religion and community. I did not make any statement which would have hurt anyone’s sentiments. However, if anyone or any community has felt hurt, I regret the same,” a statement quoting Khattar later said.
Khattar said he had “full devotion in the practice of ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’ and believed in taking along all sections of society.”
Khattar, a former RSS pracharak, had said that the “cow, Bhagwad Gita and goddess Saraswati were articles of faith for the Hindu community.”
He had maintained that the Indian Constitution, which had no provision to ban cow slaughter or consumption of beef, however, had a provision that no one should do anything that offends the faith of another religion.
Reacting to the controversy, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi that “Khattar has explained himself and I have nothing more to add.”
“This country is full of diversity and our government and the party (BJP) believes in ‘sabka saath-sabka vikas’,” he added.
On the other hand, the Congress criticized Khattar and took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“It’s a sad day for democracy. Khattar-ji will now decide the qualifications for Indian citizenship. Is this a new model of governance, Modi-ji?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanded Khattar’s sacking and said his statement was a “blow to the country’s secular fabric” and that a criminal case be registered against him.
“Khattar should resign for his irresponsible statement, and if he does not, he should be sacked. He has distorted the secular fabric of the country. His statement is not only unfortunate, but also shameful,” AAP Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey said.
Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav accused Khattar of playing politics over religion.
“He is speaking nonsense. He is playing politics over religion. Now that he has made such statements, obviously the Muslims will react to it,” Yadav told reporters.
Kamal Farouqui, member of Muslim Personal Law Board, said: “He (Khattar) is no longer an RSS sarsanghchalak. He is the elected chief minister of Haryana and has sworn on the constitution. First, he tried to malign the media by saying his statement had been twisted. Then he says he didn’t mean it. What does he mean by that? He is saying things that make Muslims in this country very uncomfortable.”
“Very few Muslims in this country actually eat beef. Going beyond the Hindu-Muslim issue, there are many others who consume beef. So they mean all such people should leave India? If they are serious about it, they should ban the export of beef and meat,” he added.
“He should offer an unqualified apology and say this will not happen again. But he will not do this because they want to give an open-ended statement that can be twisted this way or that,” Farouqui said.
Yogendra Yadav, a founder member of Swaraj Abhiyan and a former Aam Aadmi Party leader, said, “It reveals a deeper mindset that minorities are tenants and the Hindus are the landlords. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP have never accepted that the minorities are as much the owners of this entity called India as are the majority. What they really want is to emulate Pakistan, except they want a Hindu Pakistan.”
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
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As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.