New Delhi: Amidst outrage over the Dadri lynching, the government on Monday stressed that it will not allow the “agenda of destruction” to dominate over its focus of development.
It also insisted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “committed to empowerment of minorities with dignity”.
On the sidelines of a function to promote artisans from the minority community, Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah also assured that those behind the incident in Uttar Pradesh would be “punished” as per the law.
She also appealed against controversial statements over the issue and downplayed criticism that Modi has not spoken on the issue, saying that Union Ministers speaking on the matter was the “voice of the Prime Minister”.
At the exhibition, ‘Jashn-e-Usttad’, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Modi government’s only focus is “development, development and development”.
It is on the basis of this commitment that it is trying to reach the light of development to the last man in the last queue, he said at the event organised by his ministry.
“No destructive agenda will be allowed to dominate the agenda of development. That will not happen and we will not allow it. Be it our ministry or other departments of the government, we have only one commitment — that peace and prosperity should be maintained.
“We have only one commitment: that the light of development should reach without any obstruction to the poor, the weaker sections, the minorities, who have so far not been able to receive it. We are moving forward on this commitment,” Naqvi said.
He also recited a number of Urdu couplets to underline the message of brotherhood between communities.
Minister of State in PMO, Jitendra Singh, meanwhile, in an apparent dig at Congress, claimed that the NDA government had sought to do more for minorities in one year than “was done in the last 68 years”.
“We have committed ourselves to empowerment of minorities with dignity. If one has to take care of minorities in real terms, there is no need to give them alms (khairat), but they need to be empowered with rights. Modi government’s commitment is empowerment of minorities with dignity,” he said.
However, neither Naqvi nor Singh made any mention of the incident in which 50-year-old Iqlakh was dragged out of his home by a 200-strong mob and beaten to death over suspicion that his family had slaughtered a calf and eaten its meat.
However, repeatedly asked about the incident, Heptullah said, “The matter is being investigated. Whatever the result of the investigation, whoever is responsible, will be punished according to the law.”
On the other hand, demanding justice for his father, his son Mohammad Sartaj today appealed against politicising the issue.
“This is not for me to comment, what they are saying is their thinking. I can only appeal to them not to politicise the issue. Death of someone’s family member cannot be an issue of politics.
“If you want to politicise, there are some other points too. But it is wrong to politicise someone’s murder,” Sartaj told reporters in Gautam Budh Nagar district.
He also said that there was improvement in the health of his brother Danish, who was also critically injured in the attack.
On a question about the alleged link of seven arrested persons with a local BJP leader, Sartaj said he was concerned only concerned with justice.
“I am not concerned whom they are related to or not, or with which religion. I am concerned only with justice. They have committed murder and eye witnesses, my sister, have identified them. There are more people involved. When the arrested ones will be inquired, they will open up about others as well.
“Justice should be such that it sets an example, allays fears from the minds of people. People are leaving village out of fear… That terror should be dispelled. This incident should be the last incident.”
To a query on police protection for his family, Sartaj said that any incident may take place after the protection is withdrawn.
“Police protection is there. Any incident may take place after the protection is removed. The villagers have not reached to us to express condolences, so there is something (fear) in the minds of people. So, it is obvious staying there is difficult,” he added.
Sartaj, a Corporal with the Indian Air Force, expressed confidence that the government will walk the talk on its announcement on alternate shelter, while reiterating that anti-social elements are deterred.
Sartaj’s father Iqlakh was beaten to death and his 22-year-old brother Danish was critically injured by a 200-strong mob which barged into their house following rumours that the family had consumed beef.