New Delhi, July 21 : Union Minister and senior BJP leader Arjun Ram Meghwal sparked a controversy on Saturday, saying the Alwar lynching incident was related to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rising popularity and the more popular he becomes the more such incidents would happen in the country.
He said while the death by beating on Friday night of a 28-year-old man on suspicion of cow smuggling was condemnable but the 1984 Sikh riots remain the biggest example of mob lynching in India's history.
"We condemn mob lynching but this is not a single incident. You have to trace this back in history. Why does this happen? Who should stop this? What happened with Sikhs in 1984 was the biggest mob lynching of this nation's history," Meghwal said.
He said the such mob lynching incidents were happening to defame the BJP government amid rising popularity of Modi.
"The more popular Modiji becomes, the more such incidents will happen. In Bihar elections, it was 'award wapsi'. In Uttar Pradesh elections, it was again mob lynching. In 2019 elections, it will be something else. Modiji has given (developmental) schemes and their effect is now being felt on the ground. Such incidents are reaction to (his popularity)."
The killing comes four days after the central and state governments came under a sharp criticism from the Supreme Court over frequent lynching incidents. The Supreme Court also asked Parliament to come up with a law to tackle cow vigilantism and lynch, calling such incidents "horrendous acts of mobocracy" that should be nipped in the bud.
It is the third such incident in Alwar since April last year when dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was beaten to death by a mob. Another man, Umar Mohammed, 35, also a dairy farmer was found dead near the railway tracks in Alwar in November 2017. He was also allegedly killed by vigilantes when he was transporting cows to his home in Pahari tehsil of the district.
The latest incident came hours after Modi in his speech to the Lok Sabha on Friday said "the incidents of violence are against the basic principles of humanity", urging state governments to take strict action in such cases.
The killing triggered angry reaction from the Congress. Senior Congress leader and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted his condemnation, slamming the Rajasthan government over its failure to put an end to such "heinous crimes".
"Most shocking, horrific and unfortunate incident. A man was lynched by mob in Alwar despite Supreme Court's warnings and instructions. I condemn the killing of Akbar Khan in strongest words.
"(The) Rajasthan government has failed to check such heinous crimes despite the recent Supreme Court judgement. For the BJP, human life has no value. Criminals guised as vigilantes are roaming freely without fear of law (and) order."
Congress leader Sachin Pilot urged the state government to take appropriate action. "Saddened by news of a man beaten to death in Alwar. Killing of people on 'suspicion' is sadly becoming a norm in BJP ruled states. The Home Minister's words in Parliament about state governments responsibility in stopping mob lynching seem even more hollow now."
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi attacked Prime Minister Narendra over the incident, calling his four years regime as "lynch raj". "Cow in India has a fundamental right to life under Art 21 and a Muslim can be killed for they have no fundamental right to life. Four years of Modi rule -- lynch raj."
At a rally in Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the BJP and RSS are creating Talibanis among people.