Trashing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leadership’s attack on his government as well as the Gandhis over the Hoshiarpur rape-murder case, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday termed the remarks of Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar as political puffery, with no substance or basis to support their criticism.

Contrary to what these leaders were claiming, there was no comparison between the Hoshiarpur and the Hathras cases, said Captain Amarinder, pointing out in the latter instance, the Uttar Pradesh government and police did not only fail to initiate stern action but in fact was seemingly trying to cover up the matter to benefit the upper-caste accused. This, he said, was in sharp contrast to the prompt action taken by the Punjab Police, who immediately arrested the accused and were now preparing to file the challan within a week. He himself had directed the DGP to ensure that the case is fast-tracked by the courts to ensure strict and exemplary action for the accused, said the Chief Minister.

Ridiculing the BJP leaders’ criticism of the so-called silence of the Congress leadership on the Hoshiarpur case, Captain Amarinder pointed out that his party had been forces to speak up and protest in the Hathras case because the state had failed to get justice for the Dalit girl there. “Had the BJP government in UP responded as effectively and speedily as we did in Punjab, neither the Congress and the Gandhis, nor scores of NGOs, lawyers, human rights activists would have been forced to take to the streets to fight for the victim,” he added.

The `selective politics and selective outrage’ charge, which Sitharaman made against Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, was, in fact, completely apt for the BJP, said the Chief Minister. No BJP leader had uttered a word in protest against the acts of omission and commission of the UP government and police in the Hathras case, when the entire nation was in angry uproar, he said, slamming the party over its politically motivated reaction to the Hoshiarpur incident.

The Chief Minister expressed shock at Sitharaman’s and Javadekar’s remark of `picnic tour’ by the Gandhis and other Congress MPs in Hathras, saying it reflected the grossness of the BJP’s anti-Dalit and anti-woman mindset. The Gandhis faced lathis at the hands of the brutal UP Police in Hathras, they walked miles in their attempts to reach out to the victim’s family, who cried on the shoulders of the brother-sister duo, he pointed out. If the BJP had made even an iota of this effort to pressurise the UP government into ensuring justice for the family in Hathras, the Congress would not have been forced to take on the responsibility of doing so, he added.

Captain Amarinder further pointed out that unlike the Hoshiarpur incident, the Hathras case, and the subsequent developments including the middle-of-the-night burning of the victim’s body, were a part of the chain of atrocities being committed against Dalits in UP under the BJP rule. Independent data endorses that crimes against Dalits/SCs in UP are continuously rising, with nobody to offer succour to the victims, who are living under a blanket of fear, he said. Dalits are fleeing UP, while in Punjab, which accounts for the country’s largest SC population, they feel safe and cared for, he added.

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