• Saturday, 20 April 2019

Shivraj Patil denies using term 'saffron terror'

Latur (Maharashtra), April 16 : Shortly after a Hyderabad court acquitted five accused in the 2007 Mecca Mosque bomb blast case, former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil here on Monday denied having ever used the term "saffron terror".

Interacting with mediapersons, Patil, 73, sought to know whether the chargesheet mentions "saffron or Hindu terror".

"Have I ever used this?... It's a case of terrorism. Does the court chargesheet say these words (saffron or Hindu terror)," countered Patil, who was the erstwhile UPA's Union Home minister between May 2004 and November 2008.

To a question whether senior Congress leaders including former Union Home Ministers P. Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde as well as former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh have made such statements, he said: "You should address this question to whosoever said it."

Told that they are all Congress leaders and his senior colleagues, Patil asked whether "there is any resolution to the effect passed by the Congress".

Earlier in the day, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court in Nampally acquitted five of the eight Hindu activists accused of the May 18, 2007 bomb blast which killed nine persons and injured over 50 at the historic Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad during Friday prayers.

Those acquitted include: Hindu right-wing group Abhinav Bharat members Nabakumar Sarkar alias Swamy Aseemanand, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajender Chowdhary, on grounds of insufficient evidence against them.

Of the remaining three, RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi was murdered during the course of investigation.

Two other accused, Sandeep V. Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, both RSS activists, still elude the investigators and are also wanted in some terror cases in Maharashtra.

Soon after the judgment, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra pounced on the Congress accusing it of defaming Hindu religion by coining the word "saffron terror" and demanded an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi and former party chief Sonia Gandhi.

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Shivraj Patil denies using term 'saffron terror'

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