New Delhi/Srinagar: Political parties today attacked Rahul Gandhi over his claims that intelligence agencies in Pakistan had approached victims of Muzaffarnagar riots to lure them into terrorism, with BJP questioning his authority in having access to such details while seeking an answer from the Home Minister in the matter.
BJP demanded a probe into the matter and action against the erring officials, even as it criticised the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as to how it could brief a Member of Parliament or a party office bearer.
Samajwadi Party, which extends outside support to UPA, and CPI, criticised Rahul, the Congress Vice-President, for raking up issues that sought to link Muslims to terrorism and could create hatred among the community.
"If Rahul Gandhi is saying that ISI is in touch with the youth in India, what action is government taking?
"The Home Minister must answer. If these (basis for the Congress Vice-President's remarks) are IB inputs, the Home Minister owes an explanation on Rahul Gandhi's revelations. This is very serious. We can't take politics today to that level where Congress wants to take it," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said in Srinagar.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, also attacked Rahul and dared him to reveal the identity of such persons or apologise publicly for levelling "serious allegations" and "defaming" the entire community.
"It is your responsibility to make public the names of such youth (who were in touch with Pakistani agencies)... If you do not disclose the names, then you should apologise publicly for defaming an entire community," Modi said at a public meeting in Jhansi.
Another BJP leader, Ravi Shankar Prasad, termed Rahul's statement "very irresponsible" and questioned as to what the government was doing on such inputs while party colleague Yashwant Sinha said it amounted to a "very serious systemic issue" and the guilty officers should be punished.
Modi questioned how the intelligence agencies could have "reported" to Rahul and briefed him on such sensitive matters, saying that if the government has information about ISI being in touch with the youth in Uttar Pradesh, it should act, rather than "just giving the news".
Questioning the basis for Rahul's statement, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal said it cast doubts on the Muslim community, which was not good.
"Putting a question mark on Muslims is not good. To link Muslims with terrorists is not a good thing," said Agrawal, adding that if Rahul provided more details, Uttar Pradesh government would get the matter investigated.
CPI leader Atul Anjan said that by making such statements, Rahul was trying to create hatred for Muslims in the country.
"I do not know who writes Rahul Gandhi's speeches. By making such a statement about the minority community over the Muzaffarnagar violence, he is once again trying to create tension and hatred in the country," he said.
In Jammu, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said that Rahul's statement had been made in an election environment and urged Election Commission to take action against him.
Yashwant Sinha said Rahul's statement needed to be inquired into immediately and action initiated against the guilty officers.
Javadekar said, "In what capacity is the IB briefing Rahul Gandhi? He is just an MP, we are MPs too. He is a party office bearer, we are party office bearers too.
"IB does not brief our party bearers, how can they brief him. He is not the Prime Minister, nor a Home Minister," he added.
Addressing a poll rally in Indore yesterday, Rahul had claimed that intelligence agencies in Pakistan were approaching some of the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots to lure them into terrorism, sparking a political row.