NEW DELHI -- In an appalling reaction to the death of two Dalit children as a consequence of intercaste violence in Haryana, Union Minister V.K. Singh said that the government should not be blamed for the tragic episode, in the same vein as the government is not responsible if "someone throws stones at a dog."
"There is no connection with the government. It is a feud between families," he said. “The government is not to blame if someone throws stones at a dog."
On Tuesday morning, two children - a baby girl and her two-year-old brother - were burnt alive when men from the Rajput community allegedly set a Dalit family on fire in Sunped village, Faridabad.
Singh's Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Haryana and at the Centre. He has served as an army chief, and is currently the Minister of State For External Affairs.
Singh's remarks are blow to the BJP at a time when his party needs the Dalit vote in the Bihar State Election.
Aghast at the senseless comment made by some BJP leaders including Union Minister on tragic Dalit killings in Haryana— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) October 22, 2015
Following the backlash against his remarks, Singh said his remark was not intended as an analogy. "My men and I put our lives on the line for the nation irrespective of caste,creed and religion," he said.
My statement wasn't intended 2draw an analogy. My men & I put our lives on the line 4the nation irrespective of caste,creed & religion.(1/n)— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) October 22, 2015
Insisting that his remarks about the murder of the Dalit children was not connected to his "dog" observation, Singh attacked the media, and said that the journalists who had twisted his remarks should be admitted to the Institute of Mental Health in Agra.
Earlier this year, Singh sparked controversy when describing sections of the media as "presstitutes."
Friends what do you you expect from presstitutes. Last time Arnab thought there was 'O' in place of 'E' #TimesNowDisaster— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) April 7, 2015
Slamming the "dog" remark as "inhumane," Congress Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala demanded that Singh be sacked, and a case be registered against him under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
"The Prime Minister must apologise to the nation for the remarks of V.K. Singh," he said.
After visiting the Dalit family on Wednesday, Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for the intercaste violence in Haryana.
"They are poor and helpless that is why they were attacked," he said. "This is an attitude shared by PM, CM & BJP-RSS. The attitude is that if someone is weak then they can be crushed. What you are seeing is the result of this attitude."
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Ashutosh said that his party plans to register the FIR against Singh on Friday. "This remark has revealed their mindset," he said.
At a press conference on Thursday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told the media not to blow Singh's remarks "out of proportion."
"He really condemns the incident. And he firmly stands with the fact that law and order should be maintained," said Patra.
While handing over a cheque of Rs. 10 lakh to the Dalit family in Sunped village on Thursday, CM Khattar said that the killing of the two children should not be politicised. The state government has also agreed to the family's demand for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).