Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s home in Uttarakhand’s Nainital city was set on fire on Monday, days after his new book triggered a controversy. The police have booked 21 persons in connection with the incident.
Last week, two lawyers in Delhi had filed complaints against Khurshid, accusing him of comparing Hindutva with terrorist groups ISIS and Boko Haram in a passage in the book.
Khurshid shared multiple images and videos of the flames and the subsequent damage caused due to the fire on Monday. Caretakers live in the house and there were no reports of injuries.
“I hoped to open these doors to my friends who have left this calling card,” Khurshid wrote in a post on Facebook. “Am I still wrong to say this cannot be Hinduism?”
In a separate post, the politician said that the incident pointed to the state of debate in the country. “Shame is too ineffective a word,” he wrote. “Besides I still hope that we can reason together one day and agree to disagree if not more.”
The former Union minister told PTI that an image of people who attacked his house showed that they were carrying the Bharatiya Janata Party flag, and therefore the party should release a statement of denial if it they were not associated with it.
Khurshid told reporters that people who were involved in the attack “do not belong” to the Hindu community, ANI reported.
“Hindu religion is a beautiful religion that has given a fantastic culture to this country and I am proud of it,” he said. “This attack is not on me but on Hindu religion.”
Deputy Inspector General (Kumaun) Neelesh Anand said that one of the persons booked has been identified as Rakesh Kapil. “Strict action will be taken against perpetrators,” he told ANI.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor described the incident as disgraceful.
“Salman Khurshid is a statesman who has done India proud in international forums and always articulated a moderate, centrist, inclusive vision of the country domestically,” he wrote on Twitter. “The mounting levels of intolerance in our politics should be denounced by those in power.”
An excerpt from the senior Congress leader’s book, Sunrise Over Ayodhya, read: “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”.
But a controversy began after Bharatiya Janata Party’s Information Technology cell head Amit Malviya shared the passage on Twitter. Following this, other BJP leaders also criticised the excerpt in Khurshid’s book about the Babri Masjid dispute.
Meanwhile, Khurshid responded to the criticism saying that he held Hinduism “in the highest esteem”. “Hindu religion is a very beautiful thing,” he added. “There can be no greater insult than somebody on behalf of the BJP or RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] going and filing a complaint.”