Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally broke his silence over the murder of a Muslim man killed after he had allegedly eaten beef, agencies report.
In comments published Wednesday, Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist who has faced criticism for remaining silent about several incidents deemed anti-Muslim, said the incident was “sad” and “unwelcome” adding that his government had nothing to do with it.
“The BJP has never supported such incidents,” Modi told the Bengali-language newspaper Anandabazar Patrika. “The opposition accuses the BJP of communal politics every time, but actually they are the ones indulging in it.”
The main opposition Congress party was not satisfied with his remarks.
“Narendra Modi is suffering from selective amnesia. He has forgotten that he is the Prime Minister of the entire country and safety and protecting the life of 125 crore citizens of India is his responsibility,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
“Will the Prime Minister tell the nation what action did he take against Mahesh Sharma, his minister? What action did he take against another minister Sanjeev Balyan? What action did he take against BJP leaders of the ilk Sangeet Som as also Sadhvi Prachi and others?” Surjewala asked.
Author Shashi Deshpande said Modi’s comment on the Dadri lynching incident was “far too weak.”
Modi’s comments come amid concerns that he is failing to rein in hardline Hindu nationalist supporters. More than 20 writers have returned awards in the past week in protest against his silence over the murder of a rationalist.
British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie said he supported the writers during “alarming times for free expression” in India, in a Twitter message on social media.
India’s majority Hindu community regards cows as holy, but beef is widely eaten by Hindus in parts of the south, as well as those of lower castes and minority Muslims and Christians.
Modi’s government wants a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and beef trade, which is run mostly by Muslims.