Roasted For Garlanding Lynching Convicts, Jayant Sinha Apologises

Jayant Sinha had last week come up with an explanation, raised questions about the court verdict and claimed that he was "honouring the due process of law".

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Roasted For Garlanding Lynching Convicts, Jayant Sinha Apologises

Union Minister Jayant Sinha with the men who killed a meat trader on suspicion of carrying beef

New Delhi: 

Jayant Sinha, the union minister who felicitated seven men convicted of killing a meat trader in the name of cow protection, today apologised after searing criticism for what was seen to support the cow vigilantes sentenced to life in jail for the murder.

"I have said many times that the matter is still sub judice. It won't be fair to talk on this. Law will take its own course. We have always worked towards punishing the guilty and sparing the innocent. If by garlanding them (Ramgarh lynching case convicts) an impression has gone out that I support such vigilantism then I express regret over it," news agency ANI quoted Jayant Sinha as saying.

Mr Sinha had last week come up with an explanation, raised questions about the court verdict and claimed that he was "honouring the due process of law". But this defence did not convince many including father Yashwant Sinha.

A few hours later, Yashwant Sinha had gone public with his take on his son welcoming the murder convicts with garlands at his house. "I do not approve of my son's action," Yashwant Sinha, who has been a sharp critic of the PM Narendra Modi and quit the ruling party after spending three decades in the BJP, had tweeted. Over the weekend, retired Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro joined 42 other former bureaucrats asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack Jayant Sinha from his team.

A 55-year-old trader Alimuddin Ansari was dragged out of his car in June last year and beaten to death in Jharkhand's Ramgarh by a mob that accused him of carrying beef. The horrific murder had come just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had delivered a sharp message to cow vigilantes and called killing people "unacceptable".

The seven men felicitated by the minister were among the 11 people sentenced to life in jail by a Jharkhand fast-track court in March this year. Over the last few weeks, the high court, which has suspended the sentence, has released many of the convicts on bail 

Many of the 11 have been released on bail by the high court over the last few weeks pending a decision on their appeal.

Seven of them were taken to meet Mr Sinha after they walked out of jail.

In photographs that emerged later, Mr Sinha, a lawmaker from Hazaribagh, was seen felicitating the convicts with garlands at his residence and posing for a group picture, triggering a political firestorm.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi was seen to have responded to the photos when he described the "brutal lynching" as a direct consequence of the politics of hatred and communalisation.

On Tuesday, Mr Gandhi lent his support to an online campaign to ask Mr Sinha's alma mater Harvard University "to withdraw his Alumni status".

Mr Gandhi asked people to support the petition if the sight of a highly educated lawmaker and minister Jayant Sinha garlanding and honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, "fills you with disgust".

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