New Delhi: Congress leader Alpesh Thakor, who heads an organisation accused of spearheading attacks on migrants in Gujarat, has issued an appeal to those who have left to return promising protection by Kshatriya Thakor Sena.
“All this is being done to defame Gujarat. People are leaving for Chhath festival. I appeal to them to return to the state,” said Thakor in an interview to CNN-News18.
The attacks on migrants in north-Gujarat were triggered by the rape of a 14-month-old girl. Some members of Thakor Sena, an OBC outfit in Gujarat led by Alpesh, were arrested by the police in connection with the violence following the arrest of the accused in the rape case.
The victim belongs to the Thakor community. Police have arrested Ravindra Sahu, a labourer hailing from Bihar and working in a local ceramic factory, for the crime.
“There are 2.5 crore Thakore in Gujarat. I had called the home minister of Gujarat went the first incident happened, and had also communicated to CM, DG and IG. None of my office bearers are involved. This is just politics against us,” Thakor said denying allegations of involvement in the attacks.
Alpesh is also in-charge of Bihar along with fellow Gujarat leader Shaktisinh Gohil.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi blamed poverty and unemployment for the cycle of violence in Gujarat.
Countering Rahul’s charge, Gujarat CM, in a series of tweets, urged the Congress chief to not indulge in blame game but rather “take action against its own members who incited violence”.
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Monday urged migrant workers to return to the state as widespread attacks on them sparked an exodus, prompting the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to express concern.
The backlash against the incident has singed the entire migrant community, with Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad president Maheshsingh Kushwah claiming that over 20,000 people belonging to UP, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar had already fled Gujarat.
The attacks also took on a political hue as a JD(U) leader wrote a two-page open letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, blaming his party for the violence. "You appointed your Gujarat MLA Alpesh Thakor as one of the national secretaries in-charge of Bihar and his outfit Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena is driving out migrant Biharis," Neeraj Kumar, JD(U) MLC and spokesman, alleged.
Without naming opposition Congress, Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja said efforts were underway to find out whether "it (attacks) is a conspiracy by those who are out of power in Gujarat since the last 22 years".
While Adityanath expressed confidence with the state government’s handling of the issue, Kumar said the guilty in the rape case must be punished but the entire community could not be blamed for the incident. "If somebody has committed a crime, he must be punished severely. But on account of one incident, people must not generalize and hold a grouse against an entire state," he said.
Assuring the chief ministers, Rupani said 431 people had been arrested and 56 FIRs registered in connection with the attack. Rupani appealed to people to not indulge in violence and said the situation had been brought under control. "We are committed to maintaining law and order, and people can call police in case of trouble. We will provide them security." he told reporters in Rajkot.