Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay's remarks on slain Maharashtra police officer Hemant Karkare's death during the terror attack in Mumbai continued to reverberate in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee tried to pacify the agitated members even as Antulay, who was in the house, watched the proceedings quietly -- a day after he indicated that the death of the late chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) could be linked to the Malegaon bombings he was investigating and in which Hindu radical groups were the main suspect.
"Superficially speaking they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he (Karkare) was a victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something I do not know," Antulay, a former chief minister of Maharashtra, had said.
"Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in acts of terrorism in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terrorism has always been the target," he said. "There is more than what meets the eye."
That statement had the BJP up in arms on Wednesday and Thursday as well.
"He (Antulay) has made an irresponsible statement and we want to know on what basis he has made these observations. We want the prime minister to clarify," said BJP MP Santosh Gangwar during zero hour.
"How can the minister make such a statement? We want his resignation," added Adityanath Yogi, BJP MP from Gorakhpur.
It was left to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi to intervene and assure the BJP MPs that the government would look into the matter.
Clearly embarrassed, Congress party insiders told IANS that Antulay had been asked to explain the basis on which he made these remarks.
The Congress appears to be looking to steer itself clear from the controversy by claiming that the remarks were Antulay's opinion and neither the party nor the government subscribes to them.
Karkare was among the security personnel who died moments after the terrorists went on a killing spree, eventually leaving over 170 Indians as well as foreigners dead. Karkare was gunned down along with his colleagues when the gunmen fired at their vehicle Nov 26 night.
The ATS had arrested 11 people, including Sadhvi Pragnya Thakur, in connection with the September blasts in the Maharashtra town in which six people were killed.