First Pathankot, now JNU: Two times Rajnath Singh got it wrong

  • Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 17, 2016 11:52 IST
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Police Commissioner B S Bassi at the 69th Raising Day Parade of Delhi Police in New Delhi on February 16. Singh’s comments about the controversial JNU event being backed by LeT patron Hafiz Saeed turned out to be misinformed. (Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times)

For the second time since the year has begun, the ever cautious Union home minister Rajnath Singh has found himself in an embarrassing spot over his comments.

As the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row began, the home minister said the event held in the university campus was supported by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the patron of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT). The comment was immediately picked up by the opposition to attack the government.

As damage control, the home ministry spokesperson said the minister’s comments were based on inputs from different agencies. But sources in the security establishment said they didn’t have any such intelligence in this regard.

“We don’t know on what basis, Rajnath linked Hafiz Saeed with the JNU incident. May be it was on the basis of briefing by the Delhi police,” a security official told Hindustan Times.

There seemed to be little respite when a Twitter handle, purportedly belonging to Saeed, mentioned the JNU incident. The Delhi police even posted that tweet on its official handle asking students to remain alert from such propaganda. But it turned out the account was not Saeed’s.

The Delhi police chief Bassi attempted to deflect the incident by shifting focus onto the content of the tweet. “Don’t go into whether the tweet is authentic or not. Go to the contents of the tweet. The content of the tweet was blasphemous, which could incite violence, and that is the only reason why we issued an alert. I am surprised that people are more concerned about the (authenticity of the) tweet than its potential impact. The twitter account is being probed,” he stated.

But the damage was done.

Earlier in January, during the Pathankot attack, the minister prematurely tweeted about security forces neutralising all the terrorists at the airbase, a whole day and some before the offensive actually ended. The tweet, which was posted on on January 2, was later deleted.

The exact number of Pathankot attackers has also become a controversial subject as it remains unclear how many terrorists actually laid siege to the airbase. Singh had posted that five militants had been neutralised while later reports said there were six. However investigators are waiting for forensics to confirm the exact number.

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