Union Minister Raosaheb Danve's comment that the ongoing farmer protest across the country was being fueled by Pakistan and China has provoked a furious reaction from a Delhi Sikh body that called his views "an insult".
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) denounced the insinuation that the farmers were being "anti-national" or "anarchist" by protesting.
"Farmers have been sitting peacefully and the government has faild to deliver justice...the farmers who themselves fight and die for the nation, grow food, and whose children too martyr themselves for the nation...don't try to paint them anti-national," DSGMC President S Manjinder Singh Sirsa said in a video message released on Wednesday.
Calling such insinuations "shameful", he said that the government's ministers and spokespersons have repeatedly been making such allegations.
Thousands of farmers across the country, especially those from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting for the past few weeks against three central government agricultural laws passed in September, gathering support from multiple political parties. Multiple rounds of talks with the central government have failed to break the impasse with the farmers seeking complete repeal of the three ordinances.
Speaking about the protest at a function in Maharashtra's Jalna district on Wednesday, Mr Danve said, "The agitation that is going on is not that of farmers. China and Pakistan have a hand behind this. Muslims in this country were incited first. What was said (to them)? That NRC is coming, CAA is coming and Muslims will have to leave this country in six months. Did a single Muslim leave?"
He went on to say that such efforts had not succeeded and that now the farmers were being told that they will face losses. "This is the conspiracy of other countries," Mr Danve reportedly said.
A few days ago, Haryana agriculture minister JP Dalal, too, had reportedly alleged that the farmer protest was being fueled by Pakistan and China.