Berating the Modi government over attacks on Dalits in Gujarat’s Una, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said it was an example of “social terror” condoned by the ruling party.
While demanding an investigation by a sitting high court judge, the Congress accused the government of snatching the rights of Dalits and adivasis.
The party was referring to the spate of violent protests that spread from Una following the assault on Dalit men on July 11 for allegedly skinning a cow. While one person committed suicide on Tuesday, a policeman died during a stone-pelting incident as fellow community members protested the attack.
Aside from the Congress, most parties in the opposition also attacked the BJP-led NDA inside the parliament, throwing both houses into an upheaval.
While the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for 10 minutes as MPs stood near the Chairman’s podium shouting slogans, Question Hour in the Lok Sabha saw parliamentarians carry out a similar protest.
When the session resumed in the upper house, minister for social justice and empowerment, Thawar Chand Gehlot said the state government had acted and would take appropriate action.
“FIR has been registered and action has also been taken under the act for atrocities against Dalits. Government is also providing financial assistance to the Dalit families,” he said amid the sloganeering.
Gehlot further said that the report would be submitted in two months.
He, however, appealed to MPs to not “politicise” the matter.
In the lower house, members of the Congress, Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress joined in slogans such as “daliton pe atyachar band karo” (stop atrocities against Dalits), “Gujarat model shame shame” and “sarkar jawab do” (government must answer).
Congress leader, K Suresh, further alleged that the BJP had created an “emergency-like” in some of the states where it was in power, calling it an “RSS agenda”.
“Many Dalits have tried to commit suicide as they have no faith in the state government… Violence is RSS agenda. RSS is trying for Dalit-mukt Bharat. The government totally failed. It was a BJP-sponsored attack. What is going on? Is this Gujarat model,” he said.
Home minister Rajnath Singh attempted to back the government, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “in deep pain” by what was happening in his home state.
“The Prime Minister condemned the incident in strongest terms and I also found him in deep pain over the incident,” Singh said, adding that incidents were “unfortunate” and reflected a “social evil”.
At the same time, he also tried to flip the argument on the Congress, claiming similar attacks had taken place during the UPA’s time between 1991 and 1999. But the numbers “came down significantly after 2001 and the state government (under the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi) deserves to be complimented”, he said.
Modi was present in the Lok Sabha when the opposition carried out its protests.
Barring the AIADMK, members from virtually all opposition parties were on their feet protesting as questions were being answered in the Question Hour.