Union Home Minister Amit Shah courted controversy on Friday, 25 November, while addressing a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district, where he allegedly said that the perpetrators of the 2002 Gujarat riots were "taught a lesson."
Shah, who was in Gujarat ahead of the scheduled-assembly polls, said:
"Anti-social elements earlier indulged in violence in Gujarat as the Congress supported them, but after the perpetrators were "taught a lesson" in 2002, they stopped such activities and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) established "permanent peace" in the state.
Parts of Gujarat had witnessed large-scale violence in 2002 following the train burning incident at Godhra railway station in February that year.
At the rally, Shah alleged that the Congress incited communal and caste riots in the state, and said:
"During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society."
He claimed that Gujarat witnessed riots in 2002 because perpetrators became habitual of indulging in violence due to the prolonged support they received from the Congress.
Shah then allegedly thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for abrogating Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, alleging that the Congress was against it because of its "vote bank."
In June this year, the Supreme court had dismissed the appeal by Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the riots, against the court-appointed SIT's exoneration of then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi from any responsibility for the riots.
Releasing Rape Convicts Was Part the Agenda?: Shah Draws Flack From Opposition
His comments, however, drew a lot of flak from Opposition leaders in the country.
Trinamool Congress MP, Mahua Moitra, took to Twitter to voice her opinion against Shah's statements and said:
"This is the Home Minister of India. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten his not-so- little hand."
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP, Priyanka Chaturvedi, called Shah out by asking if "releasing the rape convicts of Bilkis Bano was a part of ‘teach them a lesson’ agenda?"
11 men convicted of gang raping Bilkis Bano, and killing 14 members of her family – including her three-year-old daughter – during the Gujarat riots of 2002, were released from a sub-jail in Godhra in August.