Express News Service

DEHRADUN:  Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Friday said that Salman Khurshid should take his words back regarding the comparison of Hindutva with terrorist organisations ISIS and Boko Haram in his book. 

“Leaders should refrain from drawing parallels/comparisons which create divides in the society. I do not agree with Shri Salman Khurshid’s comparison. He should take his words back,” said the senior Congress leader. 

Distancing the party and himself from his fellow Congress leader, Rawat added that this can be Khurshid’s personal view. Leaders like him and the party do not agree with those views.

Notably, other senior Congress leaders like former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad have also disapproved of the comparison.

Azad actually called this comparison ‘factually incorrect’. The BJP has already gone ballistic on this, calling Khurshid’s remark an ‘attack on our faith’.

Rawat, a former Union minister, also criticised Kangana Ranaut’s statement that India attained freedom after BJP came to power in 2014 and that the Independence of 1947 was actually a bheekh (alms) from the British.

“Now, some people will start saying India got freedom because Narendra Modiji was born in this country. This is a false narrative which is totally unacceptable. The time for renaissance in our country has arrived. The Congress party must lead the way, with the support of the people of the country,” added Rawat. 

Meanwhile, right-wing group Hindu Sena on Friday demanded a ban on Khurshid’s book ‘Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times’, alleging that his statement comparing Hindutva to the jihadist Islam of terror groups harms social integrity and hurts the religious sentiments of Hindus.

In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Hindu Sena president Vishnu Gupta said the comparison made in the book is an attempt to demonise the Hindu religion.

Two advocates have already filed complaints with the police against Khurshid’s comments, while several BJP leaders have sought action against him.

In his letter, Gupta said, “This book comparing Hindutva/Hinduism to terror outfit ISIS and Boko Haram is an attempt to demonise the Hindu religion. These kinds of statements in a book can give publicity to the book but this harms the social integrity and hurts the sentiments of millions of Hindus residing in the country and all over the world.”

“Therefore, I request you to kindly look into the matter and put a stay on publication/circulation and sale of the book and also ban the book or take appropriate action as per Indian laws applicable,” he wrote in the letter.

In a chapter titled ‘The Saffron Sky’, Khurshid writes: “Sanatan Dharma and classical Hinduism known to sages and saints were being pushed aside by a robust version of Hindutva, by all standards a political version similar to the jihadist Islam of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram of recent years.”

According to Gupta, the excerpts from the book, besides being “instigating and provoking”, hurt the religious sentiments of a large number of people who follow the Hindu religion.

“Our Constitution provides every citizen of India with the freedom of speech and expression but not for misuse of the right when it threatens and shakes the harmony of the country,” he claimed.

He also said the Supreme Court in a 1995 judgement laid down the proposition that “Hindutva is not a religion it is a way of life and state of mind”.

The 354-page book, which claims to analyse the juridical history and consequences of the long-standing Ayodhya dispute, was released on Wednesday.

(With PTI Inputs)