External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday hit back at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for demanding Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s apology over the latter’s ISI remark.
Khurshid asked whether Modi has apologized to the nation over the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“Has Narendra Modi forgotten what happened in 2002? Has he apologized for that?” he asked.
Khurshid said Gandhi might have made this statement following the feedback that he got from the people, and added that it should be seen as an attempt by the Congress General Secretary to awaken the nation for future challenges.
“What happened in Gujarat? The matter is still in the court. So, this all can’t be ignored. In this context, whenever there is any riot everybody goes there, including politicians and NGOs, and all make attempts to ensure that there is all kind of assistance to the affected people,” he said.
Modi yesterday took on Rahul Gandhi for alleging that young Muslim men whose families were affected in the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar have been contacted by Pakistani agencies who want to recruit them to work against India.
“Who is this shehzada (prince)? Why are intelligence officers briefing him?” he said at an election rally in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.
“It is your responsibility to make public the names of such youth... If you do not disclose the names, then you should apologize publicly for defaming an entire community,” he added.
Maintaining his claim that the BJP has been igniting communal fires across the country, Gandhi earlier on Thursday revealed at a rally in Indore that 10 to 15 Muslim boys, who had lost their families in the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, are being contacted by Pakistani intelligence.
"Day before yesterday, a police officer came to my office. He told me that in Muzaffarnagar there are 10 to 15 Muslim boys, who have lost their brothers and sisters in the riots. He told me that people from the Pakistan intelligence agencies are starting to talk to surviving victims of Muzaffarnagar. The police officer told me that he is trying to dissuade the youth," Gandhi said in Indore.
Targetting the BJP, the Congress number two alleged that the opposition party is solely interested in gathering votes, while it is left to the ruling party to cool down tempers that arise in the aftermath of communal violence.
Violence broke out in the Kawal area of Muzaffarnagar on August 27, when members of a community returning from a panchayat meeting in Naglabadhod, three kilometres from Kawal, clashed with members of another community.