Both terrorism, communalism threaten India: Rahul Gandhi (Second Lead)

Friday, December 17, 2010

NEW DELHI - Responding to the WikiLeaks cable in which he is quoted as saying that “radicalised Hindu groups” may be a bigger problem than Islamist terrorists, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Friday that both “terrorism and communalism of all kinds” posed major threats to India.

According to Gandhi, Hindu groups “create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community”.

Reading out a statement on his behalf, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari quoted Gandhi as saying that “terrorism and communalism of all kinds are a threat to India” and that “we need to remain vigilant against terrorism of all kinds no matter who commits them”.

Tewari added that “fighting terrorism is the duty of every Indian. The Congress always believes in this”.

According to diplomatic leaks released by WikiLeaks, Gandhi, son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a Lok Sabha member, made his remarks last year to the US ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer.

He reportedly told Roemer that though “there was evidence of some support for (Islamic terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba) among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups”.

The Guardian also quoted Gandhi has telling the ambassador that “the risk of a ‘homegrown’ extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern and one that demanded constant attention”.

A similar statement was also read out by Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

Gandhi’s reaction came soon after Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Congress would comment on the WikiLeaks cable release about Gandhi’s remarks after verifying its authenticity.

“We will inquire into this matter, verify its authenticity and let you know thereafter,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted angrily to Gandhi’s remarks on Hindu radical groups.

“The BJP strongly condemns the statement, which is also irresponsible,” spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

“If at all Rahul Gandhi has a problem like this, he should speak to Indians, in parliament. Sharing it with an ambassador of a foreign country shows how little he knows about Indian problems.”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was more scathing. RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said it showed Gandhi’s “utter ignorance”.

Singhvi of the Congress dismissed the BJP criticism as umimportant. “Do people listen to such allegations?” he asked.

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