Opposition parties lash out at VK Singh, who is also union minister, demanding his immediate removal from ministry
Former Indian army chief and Union Minister General VK Singh has prompted severe backlash from fellow countrymen over his ‘racist’ remarks regarding recent Dalit killings in Faridabad, the largest city in the north Indian state of Haryana.
In a recent speech in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Singh compared the killing of two Dalit toddlers to “throwing stones at a dog”, sparking countrywide outrage, with opposition parties demanding his immediate sacking from the Ministry of External Affairs, which he heads.
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“See, the thing is, never associate local incidents with the sarkar [central government]. There is an inquiry going on. There was a dispute between families. The dispute… how did it turn out… where did the administration fail, after these it come to the Centre,” the ex-army chief said, adding “For everything… like if somebody throws a stone at a dog, then the government is responsible.. it is not like that.”
The remarks come in the wake of recent upsurge in extremist violence in India which has been on upward trajectory since the ruling Bharatia Janata Party (BJP) seized power in May last year.
On October 20, two Dalit children were burnt alive while their mother sustained burns and is in a critical condition, when their house was set on fire in Haryana’s Faridabad district.
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“It is condemnable, it is shocking, it is inhumane to say the least. General V K Singh has insulted not only the entire Dalit community of this country but all Indians. It reflects the mind-set of the Modi government which insults Dalits, which insults the minorities and looks down upon the people who are poor and downtrodden,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in Delhi.
The spokesperson further demanded that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sack Singh and tender an apology on his behalf. “A criminal case should be registered against the minister under Prevention of Atrocities on Schedule Castes Act,” The Indian Express quoted the Congress leader as saying.
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“To recall the prime minister of India [Modi] made a similar analogy about two years back in an interview to Reuters when he said that if a pup gets crushed under the wheels of a car that needs to be emphasised too. That remark was in the context of the Gujarat pogrom,” he said, referring to 2002 Gujrat riots, which claimed the lives of over 2,000 people – mostly Muslims.
Meanwhile, Singh had to clarify his statement, saying it was “not intended to draw an analogy between the Faridabad incident and stoning of a dog.”
“My statement wasn’t intended to draw an analogy. My men and I put our lives on the line for the nation irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” he said in a Twitter message to his followers.
“As citizens of this great nation we are sensitive but also responsible. Agenda of India is bigger than any single neighbourhood or individual,” he added.
This article originally appeared on The Indian Express.