New Delhi: Union minister Jayant Sinha, who courted controversy for garlanding the Jharkhand lynching convicts, on Thursday criticised Rahul Gandhi for taking the attack against him to a “personal level” and dared the Congress president to a “live debate in Hindi or English” on the Ramgarh lynching case.
In a statement on social media, Sinha said, “Let him [Gandhi] not hide behind his social media handles and practice shoot-and-scoot politics.” He added that if the Congress president thought his “personal conduct is ‘disgusting’, then let’s debate it in a civilised manner”.
The minister’s reaction followed Gandhi’s support for an online petition that sought the withdrawal of Sinha’s Harvard alumni status in the wake of the controversy.
The Congress had also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sack the junior civil aviation minister immediately, else it would seem that the Prime Minister approved of Sinha’s act.
As outrage over his actions grew, Sinha expressed regret and said he rejected “any type of vigilantism” and “condemn all acts of violence”.
His father, former minister Yashwant Sinha, too disapproved of his son’s stance and took to Twitter to say: “Earlier I was the Nalayak Baap of a Layak Beta. Now the roles are reversed. That is twitter. I do not approve of my son’s action. But I know even this will lead to further abuse. You can never win.”
Reiterating his stand on Thursday, the minister said he did not “intend to condone vigilantism” and regretted “if that’s the impression I gave”.
A mob of more than 100 cow vigilantes had on June 27 last year hacked cattle trader Alimuddin Ansari to death in broad daylight in Ramgarh area of Hazaribagh ditrict. Sinha represents the Hazaribagh seat in Lok Sabha.
The case was handed over to a fast-track court, which on March 21 this year completed the hearing in a record five months and sentenced 11 accused to life imprisonment. All accused went to the Jharkhand high court from where eight of them got bail on June 29, exactly a year after the incident. The men walked out of the Jai Prakash Narain Central Jail and headed straight to the residence of Sinha, where the minister garlanded them.