Home Minister P Chidambaram retracted comments linking crime in the Capital to ‘unacceptable behaviour of migrant population’, on Monday after politicians across the board from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh took offence.
The home minister said he was "dismayed" that some people had "pounced" upon the word "migrant" in his statement and raised a controversy. "I have nothing against migration or migrants, being a migrant myself. I was pointing to behaviour that is unacceptable," he said.
In a signed statement, Chidambaram said he did not want to do or say anything that would distract the country from the "real issues" and was withdrawing his complete response to a question from a journalist on incidents of rape in Delhi and the ‘failure’ of Delhi Police.
"I think we must understand, the nature of policing today in a big city and I think the police have done well in capturing the culprits very quickly," he said.
"Nevertheless, crime takes place because Delhi attracts a large number of migrants. There are a large number of unauthorised colonies, and these migrants who settle in unauthorised colonies, carry a kind of behaviour that is unacceptable in any modern city," Chidambaram said.
Angry reactions came fast to the reference to migrants. First from the BJP, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and then, from Delhi Congress MPs, Mahabal Mishra and Sandeep Dikshit. Both represent constituencies in east and west Delhi with a large percentage of migrant population from Bihar and UP.
Lalu Prasad accused Chidambaram of passing the buck and recalled similar statements attributed to Delhi CM
Sheila Dikshit earlier, blaming migrants from Bihar and UP for burdening Delhi's infrastructure.
"Chidambaram is not aware of facts," said Sandeep Dikshit, son of the Sheila Dikshit’s son.
The home minister’s clarification stressed that the reference to migrants was general. "...When using the word migrants, I did not refer to any state or region or language or race or religion... Nevertheless, I think the best way to put an end to controversy would be to withdraw the whole of my answer to the question, and I do so."