In a speech laced with communal overtones during an election rally in Ghaziabad on Tuesday night, Khan had said: “Those who fought for victory in Kargil in 1999 were not Hindu soldiers. In fact, the ones who fought for our victory were Muslim soldiers.”
Khan also went on to say that no one could guard the country’s borders better than those from the Muslim community. “Recruit us in the Indian Army. No one can guard the borders of our nation better than us,” he said. Throughout the day on Wednesday, angry reactions poured in response to Khan’s statement. Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said action should be taken against Khan for “intemperate” remarks that could lead to division of communities based on religion or caste.
Former Army Chief and the BJP’s candidate in Ghaziabad Gen V K Singh condemned Khan’s remarks, saying the Kargil war was “won by Indians”. Singh is looking to capitalise on the significant population of ex-servicemen in the area. The armed forces, already upset that former Gen V K Singh has put up posters of himself in the company of uniformed Indian Army officers, are said to have taken up the matter with the government strongly. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning in Lucknow, Khan defended himself: “What is the harm in talking about the contributions of Muslims for the country…why can’t we talk about it? Why are the sacrifices of Muslim soldiers being ignored? What is so wrong about it? My statement on Kargil should be welcomed.”
However, by Wednesday evening, Khan had modified his statement and issued a press release stating that soldiers of all communities helped win Operation Parakram during the Kargil War.