The issue of attacks on some Dalit men in Una, Gujarat, for allegedly skinning a dead cow rocked Parliament on Wednesday, with the Rajya Sabha being adjourned five times and Home Minister Rajnath Singh issuing a statement defending the actions of the Gujarat government in the Lok Sabha. His reply saw the Opposition stage a walkout in protest.
The issue was flagged by both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), with K. Suresh of the former raising the issue during zero hour. The MP demanded the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee to investigate the incident, terming it an “emergency-like” situation. He strongly attacked the BJP in his speech for the atrocity, a charge that was refuted just as strongly by Mr. Rajnath Singh.
“Violence is RSS agenda. RSS is trying for Dalit-mukt Bharat. The government totally failed. It was a BJP-sponsored attack. What is going on? Is this Gujarat model,” Mr. Suresh said. “The BJP always tries to polarise communities whenever elections are round the corner, it is not only in Gujarat.” Even more impassioned was Bihar MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav whose remarks privileging the life of a human over that of a cow was expunged from the record after Sikar MP Subhodananda Saraswati objected to it.
In the Rajya Sabha too, demands for discussion on the issue saw members rush into the well of the House with Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien asking to raise the issue during zero hour.
Mr. Singh, who addressed the Lok Sabha on the issue, condemned the incident, promised “swift and effective” action but praised the action taken by the Gujarat government and declared that atrocities against Dalits had decreased under BJP-led governments.
Mr. Singh defended the Anandiben Patel government, saying it acted swiftly, arrested the accused and provided treatment and compensation to the victims.
“Even 70 years after Independence these kinds of incidents are persisting and are a social evil. We must all combat it together, whether it takes place under BJP governments or Congress. In this context the Gujarat government took swift and effective action,” he said to loud protests from the Opposition benches.
The Opposition members dissatisfied with the answer staged a walkout.