Addressing a rally in Azamgarh, which goes to polls tomorrow, the minister raised the controversial Batla House encounter issue. He said the demand for a judicial probe into the encounter by a retired judge was discussed with both the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The minister also added that when Mrs Gandhi was shown the encounter images, she "wept bitterly".
His remarks, just hours before campaigning for the second phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls came to an end, were seen by many as an apparent bid to woo Muslim voters in the poll-bound district. The BJP called it a "communal ploy to get Muslim votes."
"I was not a minister at that time but still took the issue of the Batla House encounter to Sonia Gandhi. When we showed photographs of that incident to Mrs Gandhi, she wept bitterly," he said, adding, "She asked me to go immediately to the Prime Minister to discuss the matter. I talked to the PM and it was decided that the matter would be further investigated and even the decision to appoint some retired chief justice of the Supreme Court to look into the matter was taken. Everything was ready, however due to election time, we could not do something as some people were in opinion that at the time of election, this thing could not be done."
The opposition was quick to grab the opportunity to hit out at the Congress. Reacting to Mr Khurshid's remarks, BJP leader Balbir Punj said, "To get votes you are putting the security of the nation at stake. You are demoralising security forces. This is communalism. His (Salman Khurshid's) party is exposed. It's a communal ploy to get Muslim votes. The Congress is desperate to get votes and is hence resorting to cheap tactics."
The Batla House encounter took place on September 19, 2008 in Jamia Nagar in Delhi. Two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists and a Delhi Police inspector were killed in the encounter. The two suspected terrorists belonged to Azamgarh. Their families allege they were killed in a fake encounter.
This is not the first time that the minister's remarks during electioneering have landed him in controversy. Just yesterday, the Election Commission censured him for his minority quota remarks and said he violated the election code of conduct by promising a nine per cent sub-quota for minorities.
(With PTI Inputs)
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