NEW DELHI: Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien on Wednesday expunged “defamatory” remarks against Hindu Gods made by Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal which triggered uproar in the House. Kurien also condemned Agrawal’s remarks.
The controversial remark by Agrawal led to two adjournments and Kurien meeting members from the ruling and Opposition parties in his chamber following which Agrawal expressed regret over his comments.
Agrawal made the blasphemous comment during a short duration debate on 'rising incidents of lynching and atrocities on minorities and dalits across the country'.
Members from treasury benches said Agrawal has hurt the religious sentiments of the majority community and this also amounted to "lynching". The ruling party members insisted on an apology from Agrawal who had withdrew his comments after Kurien said his comments were defamatory. The BJP members also shouted slogans saying “Hindu Devi-Devtaon ka apman nahi chalega’ (Insult to Hindu Gods/Goddesses cannot be accepted).
Following Kurien’s meeting with the members in his chamber, Agrawal said, "If someone has been been hurt, I express my regret."
The SP leader also insisted that he did not intend to hurt the sentiments of anyone.
After Agrawal’s apology, Kurien asked the Print and electronic Media to guard against using the expunged remarks.
Strongly objecting to Agrawal’s blasphemous comments, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said, "He (Agrawal) has linked up each of the Hindu Gods to a brand of alcohol. If he had said this outside (the House), he would have been liable for prosecution.”
Jaitley further said, "You have not realised the gravity of what you have said. Do you have the audacity to speak in similar language about other Gods of other religions?"
Kurien earlier said, "I have gone through the records. It is per se derogatory and hurting the sentiments of majority community...I have expunged these remarks...He (Agrawal) should not have made the remarks..."
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also insisted for apology from Agrawal saying, "He cannot hurt the sentiments of the majority people who are Hindus. He cannot hold the House to ransom."
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi requested the Chair to adjourn the House till the records were checked. The House was then adjourned for 10 minutes in the first instance.
After Kurien’s remarks, Agrawal withdrew his statement but the House was adjourned again as the treasury benches insisted on an apology from the SP leader.
BJP MP Bhupender Yadav said, "In this House, no member should hurt the feelings of others. This is also lynching."
Amid the uproar, Kurien sought to pacify the members saying he had already "disapproved" of and "condemned" the remark and asked Agrawal to express regret to bring the House to order. Subsequently, Agrawal apologised in the House.
Earlier during the discussion, the government ruled out the need to amend law to deal with incidents of mob lynching and said that there is enough provisions in existing laws and states can use to book those found guilty.
The issue regarding bringing an amendment was raised in Rajya Sabha but Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansaraj Gangaram Ahir said that IPC and CrPC have enough provisions to punish those guilty.
“Government doesn’t feel need for an amendment in this regards,” said Ahir replying to demand by Congress leader Digvijay Singh that there is no law to deal with increasing incidents of mob lynching.
Giving details of ban on cow slaughtering, the minister said that 24 states and 5 union territories have banned it and Ahir and only states of Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland and Lakshwadeep have not imposed any such ban.
He further said that starting 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has started recording lynching cases related to communal and religious tensions.
Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad said that there is an understanding among government and those involved in such acts.
“Prime Minister has spoken against mob lynching and even home minister has made statements but there seems to be an understanding as the government is not taking any proactive action against them,” said Azad.
Rejecting allegations that BJP workers are involved in such crimes, the government came out with figures that majority of such incidents have happened in non-BJP ruled states.
“There has been only one-two incidents in BJP rules states and rest in non-BJP. It is the duty of the state government to maintain law and order and stop such incidents,” said Ahir.
The minister said in 2014, such cases happened in states like Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and UP, in 2015 cases were reported from UP, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and in 2016, states of UP, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had more cases.