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Khattar offers ‘regrets’ over his beef statement

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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.”

(IANS)

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Quick View on Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Case: 20 Years of Imprisonment enough for a Rapist in India?

15 point guide to know about the latest developments in Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s case

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Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim got a jail sentence of 20 years
Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim got a jail sentence of 20 years. Twitter

New Delhi, August 28, 2017: A special CBI court gave jail sentence of 20 years (for a 15-year-old case) to rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim today.

Here’s a 15 point guide about the Gurmeet Ram Rahim  case:

  • Jagdeep Singh, CBI Judge declared 2 sentences of 10 years imprisonment for the 2 rape cases that happened in 2002.
  • Dera chief was also fined by the court for the 2 cases amounting to a total of Rs 30 lakh (Rs 14 lakh each would go to the 2 rape victims).
  • The Dera chief allegedly cried in the courtroom and also begged for sympathy and forgiveness.
  • The defense requested the Judge to be lenient as the Dera chief has worked for the welfare of people in the past.
  • Apart from the rape cases, Gurmeet Ram Rahim is also facing trial in 2 separate murder cases- Dera follower Ranjit Singh and journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.
  • Protests by Dera followers (after his conviction) in Haryana and Punjab have led to the death of 38 people and crores of damage to public property.
  • A special court was set up in the Sunaria Jail premises in order to avoid any further damage caused by the violent mob. For this Jagdeep Singh, CBI special court judge flew to Rohtak today.
  • Talking about safety measures, Atul Kumar, District Collector of Rohtak said that shoot at sight orders will be issued if any anti-social elements occur which tries to harm the police force or innocent public.
  • Security was increased outside Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana chief minister’s official residence in Chandigarh before Ram Rahim’s sentencing.
  • There was high security around the Rohtak district jail with paramilitary forces and Haryana Police covering the area. The Army was on standby.
  • No movement of people (other than the authorized ones) was allowed within 10 km distance from the jail premises.
  • Panchkula, Sirsa, Uttar Pradesh, neighboring areas were on high alert and to ensure the safety of citizens Paramilitary forces were placed in various areas. There is a curfew in Sirsa and Section 144 is enforced in Rohtak. Sensitive areas of Punjab are being patrolled by security forces.
  • Locals have been asked to stay indoors as a preventive measure.
  • Mobile internet services will remain suspended in Haryana, Punjab and also Internet lease lines in Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters, Sirsa till tomorrow 11:30 a.m.

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