New Delhi: The Congress today distanced itself from the controversial remarks on terror made by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde earlier this week. Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said, "We should put an end to this controversy. The home minister has clarified. Sometimes, one might say something by mistake. No Congressman can knowingly make such a statement."
Even as the party went on damage-control mode, Home Secretary RK Singh said, "We have names of at least 10 persons involved in Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Dargah Sharif blasts who were associated with the RSS."
Meanwhile, the BJP slammed External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today for defending Mr Shinde. Mr Khurshid had backed Mr Shinde earlier in the day and said that his statement was based "entirely on facts", made available by investigative agencies. He, however, said that terror has no religion and colour.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad responded, "Yesterday, Pakistan's terrorists celebrated after Mr Shinde's comments. Is Mr Khurshid supporting those terrorists? What kind of a picture of India is being presented? The BJP is deeply distressed as to the line Mr Khurshid has taken; the External Affairs Minister should weigh his words."
He added, "The remarkable achievement of India's foreign policy in exposing Pakistan in terrorism is sought to be undermined by these sort of statements."
Mr Shinde had stoked a controversy by accusing the BJP and RSS of conducting terror training camps and promoting "Hindu terrorism".
Speaking to reporters, Mr Khurshid said, "Let me just say this to you very clearly that our stated position, that is shared fully by the home minister and past home minister, is based entirely on facts as the investigative agencies have made available to the government."
"I think we should not be distracted by a phrase here or there frankly. The intention, the commitment, the determination is what clearly matters," he said.
Mr Khurshid said one should not be looking at finer notions of what should be and can be said at any given time. "I think core understanding is that there are elements who want to use some cover of pretence and some cover of allegation against other groups to continue with their nefarious and unwholesome activities," he said when asked about 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and LeT trying to exploit Shinde's statement.
Mr Khurshid underlined that any form of violence that is propagated by extremists of any kind, irrespective of religion is what is dangerous for India. "Terror does not have religion. We have said this very clearly. And religion should not be associated with colour. It is terror that we have to fight. Terror directed against India that we are fighting".
(With inputs from Agencies)