Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal said here on Monday that “some forces are working to divide the country on communal lines”. Speaking at an Iftar party hosted by AAP supporters in Punjab’s only Muslim-majority town, Kejriwal also rejected allegations that his party’s MLA Naresh Yadav was involved in the sacrilege of the Quran that had led to violence here on June 24. Instead, he blamed Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is the BJP’s partner in the central government too, for it.
“Akalis have stooped so low... If they had to defame AAP, they could have done it any other way. But what was the need to burn the Quran?” he said at the gathering that saw scores of people and was held even after the police imposed section 144 of the CrPC (criminal procedure code) restricting assembly of more than 10 persons at a place.
“For me, Quran is as significant as the Gita, Bible and other religious scriptures. A true Hindu can never think of sacrilege of the Quran or any other granth (holy book),” said Kejriwal. Later, Bhagwant Mann, the party’s MP from Sangrur segment that includes Malerkotla, said, “As the Akalis are fearing a huge loss (in the assembly polls due early next year), they are indulging in such communal activities.”
Kerjiwal concluded his speech telling the people to “pray that God save the country from divisive forces that are triggering communal tensions”.
He didn’t speak to the media and left the venue in a hurry to take stock of the situation after the arrest of his principal secretary as the Delhi CM by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the national capital.
Earlier, SAD workers burnt an effigy of Kerjiwal and Naresh Yadav, demanding the latter’s arrest. They also gathered to show black flags to Kejriwal’s cavalcade, but sensing a law-and-order problem the district administration invoked section 144. Cops didn’t allow the protesters to reach Kejriwal’s meeting venue from the residence of local Akali MLA Farzana Nissara Khatoon. (inputs by Ketan Gupta)