Athawale blames Cong leaders'' speeches for Delhi violence

Mumbai, Feb 28 (PTI) Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Friday alleged that the provocative speeches given by Congress leaders were responsible for the violence in Delhi, which has so far claimed 42 lives.

He was talking to reporters at the press room in the Vidhan Bhavan here, where the budget session of the Maharashtra Legislature is currently on.

'Provocative speeches given by Congress leaders are responsible for the violence in the national capital,' the Social Justice Minister said.

He also alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in Delhi, was involved in the riots.

AAP's councillor Tahir Hussain is accused of being involved in the killing of Intelligence Bureau (IB) staffer Ankit Sharma (26), who was found dead in a drain near his home in northeast Delhi's riot-hit Chand Bagh area. AAP has suspended the councillor from the primary membership of the party till the police probe gets over.

Athawale also accused the Congress of provoking Muslims to protest against the CAA.

'The Congress has been provoking people for several days. It is wrong to mislead Muslims over the CAA. It has to be probed whether the Congress and AAP has a hand in the Delhi violence,' he said.

'The CAA is meant to provide citizenship to the oppressed people from neighbouring countries and not to take away the citizenship of Indians,' the minister added.

Communal clashes broke out in northeast Delhi five days ago after violence between anti- and pro-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) groups spiralled out of control.

Frenzied mobs torched houses, shops, vehicles, a petrol pump and pelted stones at local residents and police personnel.

Meanwhile, Athawale welcomed the Maharashtra government's move of withdrawing cases in Koregaon Bhima violence.

'The process (of withdrawal of cases) was initiated by the previous BJP-led government,' he said.

State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had on Thursday said that of the total 649 cases filed against several people in Koregaon Bhima violence, 348 cases have been withdrawn so far and rest of the cases are in the process of being withdrawn.

Athawale pointed out that the Koregaon Bhima and Elgar Parishad cases were different, and said that his party (RPI-A) was opposed to Naxalism.

According to Pune police, the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, was supported by Maoists and inflammatory speeches made at the event led to caste violence at Koregaon Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.

Athawale, whose Rajya Sabha term ends in April was in Vidhan Bhavan to meet Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis.