New Delhi: After the controversy surrounding Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's statement that ‘Muslims can live in India but they will have to give up eating beef', the BJP leader clarified that he was 'misquoted and twisted by the Indian Express'.
Later in the day the daily released an audio tape of the interview where Khattar was clearly stating, “Muslim rahein, magar is desh mein beef khaana chhodna hi hoga unko. Yahan ki manyata hai gau (Muslims can continue to live here, but they will have to give up eating beef. The cow is an article of faith here)."
Here is an excerpt from the interview which has been uploaded on Indian Express YouTube channel:
Indian Express: Just now you said that there are certain things in which this country has to take pride. Saraswati is one of them, Gau raksha, Geeta, Kurushetra are few others. The country has changed a lot, we are now a plural country… all these are symbol of Hindu religion. Don't you think these all are polarising symbol? BJP is being criticised for following communal agency.
ML Khattar: Those criticising us are unable to understand the depth of the issue. We talk about gau raksha. I recently visited Mewat, people there are culturally Muslim. But they have love for cow. They also took pledge of not eating beef. In Assembly, we have passed a bill on gau rakhsha and everybody took pledge. All three MLAs of Mewat were part of that Assembly and they said that ‘even our ancestors used to worship cow'. They also voiced their support to gau rakhsha.
IE: How do you see the Dadri lynching?
Khattar: This incident was a result of misunderstanding. It should not have taken place from both sides. The victim shouldn't have made ‘halki tippani' (low comment) about cow. This country will not allow beef.
IE: Some percentage of this country is Muslim, they eat beef, and Christians eat beef.
Khattar: Muslims can continue to live, but they will have to stop eating beef. The cow is an article of faith here (Muslim rahein, magar is desh mein beef khaana chhodna hi hoga. Yahan ki manyata hai gau). They can be Muslim even after they stop eating beef, can't they? (gau maans chhod kar bhi to Muslim reh sakte hai na). It is written nowhere that Muslims have to eat beef, not is it written anywhere in Christianity that they have to eat beef. Culturally, we are democratic. Democracy has freedoms, but those freedoms have a limitation. Freedom of one person is only to the extent that it is not hurting another person.
IE: But don't you think these are constitutionally guaranteed individual's freedom that what you eat, what you wear.
Khattar: You can't hurt the sentiments of another community even constitutionally you can't do this.
IE: Do you think this is attack on individual's liberty?
Khattar: Liberty is always guarded. There is no unlimited liberty. For ex: because of me if someone is getting offended, should I have the liberty?
IE: It is not constitutionally that you can't kill cows.
Khattar: The Constitution says you cannot do something that offends me, I cannot do something that offends you. We should respect each. Why to do such things when you can live without doing that particular work… which hurt other people sentiment.