Dalit kids death: VK Singh makes ‘dog’ comment, then clarifies
Union minister of state VK Singh on Thursday stoked a controversy with his remarks on the death of two Dalit children in an attack in a Haryana village, saying the central government cannot be held responsible if someone stones “a dog”.
The minister, however, later clarified his statement was not intended to draw an analogy between the Faridabad incident and stoning of a dog.
Singh, a former army chief and the minister of state for external affairs, contended the attack at Sunperh village of Faridabad district had occurred because of the failure of the local administration.
“Here it was a failure of the (local) administration. After that it comes on the (Central) government,” Singh told ANI on the sidelines of an event in Ghaziabad.
“So in everything, (to say that) someone threw a stone at a dog, the government is responsible – it is not like that,” he said in footage aired on television channels.
Asked if the government had failed in view of the killings in Sunperh, Singh said, “Don’t connect the government with it. It was a feud between two families. The matter is being inquired into.”
Early on Tuesday, over half a dozen upper caste Rajput men allegedly set ablaze the house where 31-year-old Jitender Kumar was sleeping with his wife and two children. Kumar’s nine-month-old daughter Divya and two-and-half-year-old son Vaibhav were burnt alive. Their mother, Rekha, suffered serious burn injuries and is still critical.
Haryana is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, to which Singh belongs.
Singh’s comments drew swift criticism from opposition parties, with the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking his dismissal and asking for a police case against him.
“V.K. Singh’s statement is shameful and prosecutable under the SC/ST Act. A case should be registered against him immediately,” Kejriwal tweeted.
He “should be thrown out of the cabinet before the evening”, the Aam Aadmi Party leader added.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “I’m #speechless. Not Government’s Fault If One Stones a Dog: VK Singh on Dalit Killings.”
The main opposition Congress compared Singh’s comments to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported remarks about attacks on minorities. Modi had once said that a person would feel sad even if a puppy came under the wheels of a car.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted: “Modi Ji talked of a puppy, VK Singh says a dog! Is this government so apathetic, insensitive, callous??”
Priyanka Chaturvedi, another Congress spokesperson, said on Twitter, “Dalit killings equated to dogs being stoned. Muslim killings equated to puppies being run over by a car. The empathetic side of BJP. Not.”
Former Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav said Singh had added “insult to injury” and he “must apologise forthwith or be sacked”.
Singh, however, later clarified his statement was not intended to draw an analogy between the Faridabad incident and stoning of a dog.
“My statement wasn’t intended 2draw an analogy. My men & I put our lives on the line 4the nation irrespective of caste,creed & religion,” he tweeted.
“As citizens of this gr8 nation v r sensitive but also responsible.Agenda of India is bigger than any single neighborhood or individual,” he said in another tweet.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attitude for the attack on the Dalit family. “This is an attitude shared by the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister, the BJP and the RSS – if somebody is weak, they can be crushed. What you are seeing is the result of this attitude,” he said.
Faced with criticism from the opposition, the Haryana government has asked for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the killings. Seven people have been arrested so far in connection with the attack.