New Delhi/Lucknow: Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria was today slammed by opposition parties for his alleged hate speech at a condolence meeting of a VHP leader in Agra over which police lodged an FIR against three people for allegedly making inflammatory comments but he was not named.
The Congress alleged that the speech by Katheria showed that BJP and RSS resorted to divisive agenda, especially ahead of elections, while Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, said the real agenda of the NDA government is being "exposed".
As a group of social activists held a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the alleged hate speeches of Katheria and fellow BJP MP Babu Lal, the junior HRD minister claimed he did not name any community at the Sunday meeting.
Lal remained unapologetic and said Hindus cannot watch silently when they are being targeted.
"What has been published in one of the newspapers is false. I had not taken the name of any community. I had said that the culprits, who had murdered the VHP leader, should be given death sentence. I had also said that the Hindu community should unite for their safety," Katheria said.
"I never said anything against anyone at that meeting," Katheria told NDTV.
Katheria also ticked off saffron leader Sadhvi Prachi for her alleged inflammatory remarks at the meeting, saying she should not have made such comments.
"An FIR has been lodged against Prashant Chaudhary, Ashok Lavania and Kunduka Sharma at Loha Mandi police station in Agra," IG (Law and Order) Bhagwan Swaroop told reporters in Lucknow.
Asked whether the three belonged to BJP or VHP, Swaroop said he did not have any information in this regard.
He said Katheria's name was not in the FIR lodged by the concerned sub-inspector Anil Kumar.
Katheria, who represents the Agra Lok Sabha constituency, along with Lal, an MP from Fatehpur Sikri, had on Sunday attended a condolence meeting held for VHP leader Arun Mahaur, who was allegedly killed by some youths from another community in Agra on Thursday.
"They speak whenever elections are nearing. They talk about dividing the country and not uniting. If they continue to speak like this, there will be repercussions across the country. Today we are raising this issue because Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are silent on this issue," Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh, alleged that the inflammatory speeches at the condolence meeting was a "defInite design" to create communal tension in Agra because the BJP was making attempts to divide the society "vertically on communal lines" in western UP.
Assembly elections in UP are due next year.
BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said the Minister has clarified his remarks. "Katheria has made it clear in his statement that he has said nothing wrong. And after this clarification, there is nothing to comment on."
Union Minister Kalraj Mishra said the "tragic" murder of the VHP leader highlighted the poor law and order situation there but cautioned against "reactions which trigger violence and unrest".