Amid protests over the “removal” of two Muslim police drivers from BJP leader LK Advani's convoy in Kozhikode on Tuesday, Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Thursday there had been no discrimination on the basis of religion.
He, in fact, said many Muslim policemen were part of the security set-up for Advani's visit to the state.
On the reported removal of the drivers at the behest of a National Security Guard (NSG) official, the minister said, “Such reports are devoid of any factual basis. There were 12 drivers short-listed for six vehicles in the convoy. After dummy runs, six were excluded. They included four Hindus and two Muslims. This had nothing to do with their religion and, in fact, several Muslims were part of security arrangements for the leader of the Opposition."
Criticising Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed for raising a hue and cry, Balakrishnan said, “He should have alerted us instead of going public.”
In New Delhi, NSG director general Jyoti Krishan Dutt told mediapersons his organisation does not interfere with deployments by the local police or administration. He said the NSG's own deployments are made “purely on professional merit” and that caste, creed and religion do not enter the picture.
Advani, on his part, asserted that such stories were being spread by the “Dirty Tricks Department” of the Congress. BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said: “It is doubtful whether the incident actually happened”. He added that it was an example of the worst kind of cheap politics with aims of arousing communal passions.