A week after serial blasts rocked Delhi on 13 September 2008, gunshots fired in a cramped residential colony, not far from the Jamia Millia Islamia University, left two boys and a police officer dead. More than three years later, the Delhi Police’s controversial Batla House has returned to haunt the Congress, and how.
Confronted with Muslim youth burning his effigy must have come as a rude shock to the Congress General Secretary at a time when a big part of party’s ‘Reclaim UP’ plan depends on winning over Muslim voters.
While hugs and cheers have been the theme of the Rahul Gandhi-led campaign trail in UP’s Muslim pockets, the misadventure at Azamgarh, the hometown of the boys who were killed in the Batla House encounter, has shifted the focus back to the long-standing demand for a judicial inquiry into the encounter that took place in a Muslim neighbourhood in the Capital. (Read Batla House Encounter: A curious case of rejecting a magisterial inquiry.)
Though Rahul Gandhi seems to have reserved his judgment on the matter, the verbal duel between the usual suspects in the Congress Party has begun.
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, the man who belled the cat, has demanded justice for the accused, telling reporters, “We want justice for the 26 accused in the case. A speedy, free and fair trial for them is top priority as a judicial probe is not possible now.” Singh was, of course, reacting to Home Minister P Chidambaram’s ‘Batla House encounter genuine’ statement, which was in turn a response to Singh’s ‘Batla House encounter is fake’ accusation.
Chidambaram speaking to reporters yesterday had said, “That was Digvijaya’s views from the very beginning. I respect his views. But after looking into the matter, after taking over as home minister, we came to the conclusion that the encounter was genuine.”
The latest entrants to the debate, no prizes for guessing, is the Opposition party. The BJP spokesperson has demanded a clarification from the Prime Minister himself and the Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Expect more quotable quotes today.