There is no quick end in sight for BJP's troubles over the party's stand on Dalits in the country. Already facing scathing criticism for it's anti-minorities stand, it's own leaders seem to be issuing statements that makes the accusation ring true. Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar - who recently left the government red-faced by saying that Muslims can live in India only if they don't consume beef - is at the eye of another storm again.
Close on the heels of the gruesome murder of two Dalit children, a Dalit teen was found dead in the state. The autopsy report indicated that the death happened due to hanging. However, the teen's parents said that the police had something to do with the child's death. During a press conference, where the CM was trying to assure that his government doesn't discriminate against Dalits, Khattar also ended up saying that the teen's death was a case of suicide.
Khattar said, ""Suicide was committed in the night. Official report is yet to come."
The Times of India reports: "The family claims the boy, Govind, died in police custody and that police had demanded money for his release. They allege that police took the boy to the police station on the complaint of theft and later demanded Rs 15,000 to release him. They say that when they went to the police station with money, they were told that Govind had been released. The family also claims the boy was brutally beaten."
The 15-year-old from Gohana district in Haryana was accused of stealing a pigeon.
Khattar's comments struck as insensitive especially because a probe has been ordered and he seemed to have commented on the cause of death, even before formal investigations into the case could be concluded.
Not only was Khattar criticised in the media for making the comment, Opposition Congress pounced on the opportunity and took the party to the cleaners over it.
"When Khattar will pre-judge a case before investigation, then who will punish the guilty in this country? It is shameful, condemnable and reprehensible. We reject such unwarranted intervention by the chief minister in an ongoing investigation into atrocities against the Dalit boy in Gohana," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
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While Khattar's comments turned the heat on BJP further, V.K. Singh's 'dog' remark will continue to be the party's nightmare for a while now.
The National Commission For Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has reportedly sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh police chief, pointing out that Singh's comments are an offence under the Prevention of Atrocities Act and the Indian Penal Code. The body asked the UP police if they have registered a case against Singh. The police denied having received the notice.
TOI reports: "The commission's notice does not immediately translate into a case against Singh but the police will need to respond to the question whether the minister's remarks amount to an offence under the POA Act and the IPC. "
Meanwhile, ripples from the controversy on Singh's comments on the Haryana incindent were felt in Bihar. BJP ally Jitan Ram Manjhi urged Prime Minister Modi to take immediate action against Singh. The Indian Express reports: "Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told a rally that “if there is ‘jungle raj’ in Bihar, then isn’t Haryana witnessing mangal raj?”