(MENAFN - Arab News) India's home minister has accused key Hindu nationalist groups of promoting terrorism at their training camps, a charge strongly denied by hard-line groups.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde says an investigation by government agencies has revealed involvement of Hindus in the bombing of a Pakistan-bound train that killed 68 passengers in 2007 and an explosion in a crowded market in western India's Malegaon town that killed seven people in 2008.
"Training camps of both the BJP and the RSS are promoting Hindu terrorism. Whether it is Samjhauta blast or Mecca Masjid blast or Malegaon blast, they plant bombs and blame it on the minorities," he said on the last day of Congress Chintan Shivir in the western Indian city of JaipurJaipur.
Shinde accused main opposition Bharatiya Janata party and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, of blaming minority Muslims for these bombings.
Reacting quickly to the allegations made by the Home Minister, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: "Home Minister's statement is irresponsible and unfortunate. We condemn it."
Mukhtar Naqvi, a BJP spokesman, demanded an apology from Congress leader Sonia Gandhi for Shinde making such "a baseless and provocative charge."
Defending himself, Shinde said that he didn't say anything new and only spoke about saffron terrorism which has already been talked about many a times in newspapers. "It is saffron terrorism that I have talked about. It is the same thing and nothing new. It has come in the media several times," he said.
Sources said that Shinde was warned by the Congress leadership to make the clarification. Earlier in the day, Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her address at the Chintan Shiviar had asked party leaders to gear up for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and not indulge in nepotism so that they could win back people's faith.
Congress leader and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla also clarified on Shinde's statement saying he referred to right-wing terrorism and not Hindu terrorism. "Terrorism has no religion. The extremists and religious fanatics create terror. The Home minister did not refer to Hindu terrorism instead he meant right-wing terrorism," he said.
Right wing activists are alleged to have plotted the Samjhauta Express bomb blast. Six people, including Swami Aseemanand and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, have been chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency. Two bombs went off on the Samjhauta Express near Panipat on Feb. 18, 2007 while it was on way to Lahore, killing 68 people.
Meanwhile, the newly-appointed Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi yesterday made an emotional pitch to the Congress and proclaimed his love for the people of the country and his party. While addressing the party members at the end of the two-day Jaipur meet, Rahul thanked the party members for appointing him as the party's vice president and said, "I will fight for Congress and people of India with whatever I have."
Rahul also cited his grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination and said that India needs hope of a systemic change to move the country ahead. Praising the current government, Rahul said, "All the development in India has been possible because of Congress and the governments led by it."
Calling his elevation in the party "a huge honour", Rahul said that the Congress works for every single citizen of this country and praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA's flagship schemes like Food bill, NREGA, Direct Transfer Benefit Scheme. "Food bill will ensure that no child in the country will go to sleep hungry," said Rahul.