New Delhi: West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma of the BJP stands by his controversial remark that Shaheen Bagh protesters would “rape and kill” Delhi residents.
Unperturbed by the Election Commission’s decision to remove his name from the list of BJP star campaigners, he told ThePrint, “I will continue to campaign for BJP candidates. I still stand by my statement and will submit my reply to the Election Commission. I have not said anything wrong.”
Verma, the son of late Delhi chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, is among several BJP leaders who have sought to make the Shaheen Bagh protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) the central plank of the 8 February assembly election.
The CAA is widely seen as an anti-Muslim legislation because it introduces religious grounds for grant of citizenship to immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbours, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the CAA is led by Muslim women. Amid reports that protest participants, including former IITian Sharjeel Imam, have made some controversial comments, BJP leaders from Amit Shah to Anurag Thakur and Verma have sought to project the protesters as “anti-nationals”.
“I saw slogans like ‘We want Jinnah waali azadi’ and ‘Pakistan zindabad’. I heard protesters saying ‘we want jihad’ at Shaheen Bagh,” Verma said.
“We all know what jihad is. Jihad is to convert all non-Muslims to Muslims. This is what they did in Kashmir. Wherever slogans of jihad will be raised, the outcome will be the same,” he said. “What happened in Kashmir can happen in Delhi too. And people of Delhi are also aware of it,” Verma added.
“Jihad means, if you are not Muslim, then you can’t even go to a Muslim colony and raise ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogan,” he said.
“Muslims want to take over India as this is what jihad means to them… but Hindus don’t indulge in jihad or religious conversion,” Verma said in an interview with ThePrint.
‘I stand by what I said’
Verma had triggered a controversy Tuesday with his comment that Shaheen Bagh protesters would “rape and kill” Delhi residents the way Kashmiri militants had treated Pandits in the Valley.
When asked if BJP leaders were resorting to such statements out of desperation, as is being claimed by the AAP and the Congress, Verma said the party was confident of winning the Delhi elections.
Verma added the Shaheen Bagh protest had been going on for a while as it had the support of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“I stand by what I said. Even Delhiites understand this… that if their population will continue to rise… Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal… has extended support to the protesters. The day the BJP will come to power, they themselves will go back to their homes within an hour,” he added.
Referring to allegations that the BJP was trying to polarise the electorate, Verma said, “Why can’t the BJP ask for Hindu votes when the AAP and the Congress want Muslims to vote only for them. Until the time the protest was peaceful, it was fine, but now such anti-India slogans are being raised… it is completely unacceptable.”
Asked about cases of lynching by mobs primarily constituting Hindus, Verma said “Hindus don’t believe in jihad or in conversion”. “It has never happened in history. We have never heard such things,” he added.
‘Protests are disrupting traffic’
During an election rally in the capital last week, Home Minister Shah asked Delhiites to press the button on the voting machine with such force that “its current is felt at Shaheen Bagh”. Similarly, Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur egged on supporters at a Delhi rally this week with the slogan “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko.”
Saying Shaheen Bagh protesters were politically driven, he urged Delhiites to choose wisely. “These protests are disrupting traffic movement and causing inconvenience to people but the CM is turning a blind eye to all this,” he said.