Union minister Jayant Sinha on Thursday challenged Congress president Rahul Gandhi to an open debate on the Ramgarh lynching case. Sinha's challenge comes after Rahul attacked him for felicitating eight convicts in the case who were granted bail by the Jharkhand High Court.
"Shri Rahul Gandhi ji has taken the attack against me to a personal level. He has attacked my education, values, and humanity. I challenge him to a live debate in Hindi or in English on the Ramgarh lynching case. If he thinks that my personal conduct is disgusting then let's debate in a civilised manner. Let him not hide behind his social media handles and play shoot-and-scoot politics. Our great democracy deserves no less," Sinha said in a statement on Twitter.
— Jayant Sinha (@jayantsinha) July 12, 2018
On Tuesday, Rahul termed Sinha's action "disgusting" and sought support for a petition that seeks withdrawal of Sinha's Harvard alumni status. Rahul tweeted:
If the sight of a highly educated MP & Central Minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanding & honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, fills you with disgust, click on the link & support this petition. Sign Petition:https://t.co/K9CrzHbNOz via @ChangeOrg_India — Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 10, 2018
The petition by Prateek Kanwal, a 2018 graduate from Harvard University, said that action by the BJP minister "shocked the nation and brought disrepute to our great institution".
The petition said Sinha's "callous and insensitive actions" generated tremendous anger in India and have been widely reported by the media.
On the subject of his degree, Sinha said he was born in a small town in Bihar and would not care if his degree is revoked. He told ET Now, "I am not worried about my Harvard degree being revoked. I was born in Giridih. I went from Hazaribagh to Harvard. It's my education that has taught me that a democracy is based on inalienable human rights. I challenge Rahul Gandhi to debate."
Facing intense criticism from the Opposition over felicitating the convicts, Sinha expressed regret on Wednesday, and added that the matter was sub judice and his actions were not intended to propagate the idea of lynching. He said he believed the men to be innocent.
"If by garlanding them an impression has gone out that I support such vigilantism then I express regret over it," he said. "I have said many times that the matter is still sub judice. It won't be fair to talk on this. Law will take its own course. We have always worked towards punishing the guilty and sparing the innocent," he said.
Even in his Thursday statement, Sinha insisted that the documents related to the incident were in the public domain and he invited his critics to read them and then form their opinion.
The Union minister courted controversy by garlanding the convicts at his house last Friday. He also advised them to "have faith in the judiciary", and said the courts will serve justice. Sinha is also reportedly helping them fight their legal battle. Soon after photographs from the felicitation were shared widely on social media, Sinha drew criticism from Leader of Opposition in the Jharkhand Assembly and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA Hemant Soren, who called his actions "truly despicable".
A mob lynched Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh on 29 June, 2017, on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car. A lower court convicted them in the case, but the Jharkhand High Court later granted them bail.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jul 12, 2018 21:46:35 IST