The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday clarified that the two Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives nabbed by the Delhi Police had not approached the Muzaffarnagar riot victims. But by the time the MHA and Delhi Police denial came on a news report, several Congress leaders had taken it to be true and used the issue to attack the opposition BJP.

In the newspaper it was reported that two Haryana clerics, who were arrested last month for their suspected links with LeT, had allegedly visited the Muzaffarnagar relief camps and tried to recruit the victims. Sources in the MHA said the accused had only approached an Imam and a teacher and neither of the two were riot victims.

Congress leaders, however, latched on to the story, which was denied by both the Delhi Police and the MHA during the day, to state that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi was right in saying that such riots provided the recruitment ground for the intelligence agencies of Pakistan.

Mr. Gandhi had during an election rally in Madhya Pradesh on October 24, stated that, “An intelligence officer came into my room and told me that people from Pakistan's intelligence agencies are talking to a few Muslims boys whose relatives were killed in Muzaffarnagar riots. He said he tried to talk to the boys and convince them not to get influenced by these people.”

Holding out that Mr. Gandhi was right in his assertions but was unjustly criticised, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed went on to charge that BJP thrived on communal politics. “Whenever there is a communal riot, it is only the ISI and the “bhajpai” (BJP) that rejoice. Whenever there is a communal riot, the BJP gets votes due to polarisation,” he said, hinting at who would have gained from the riots.

As for the reported police claims, the AICC general secretary said, “This is not a new thing. Even Mr. Gandhi made a statement a few months ago and these parties tried to twist it.”

Mr. Ahmed said the police claim “vindicates Rahul stand”. He went on to claim that “other parties were premature in attacking Rahul. They had a malicious intent. Several BJP leaders were involved in spreading rumours”.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh also reacted to the developments by saying that while the opposition had criticised Mr. Gandhi’s remarks the news report had lent credence to it.

“If this information is correct that some people from LeT had gone to relief camps to lure refugees, then it proves right what Mr. Gandhi had said,” he said.

Union Minister Manish Tewari also pitched in saying that “those who believe in the politics of polarisation, who believe in the politics of communalism should become cognizant of the damage which they do to the idea of India.”