Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday courted a controversy after he referred to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as 'Ji', prompting an instant attack from the BJP leaders.
"In Pulwama, there was a bomb explosion. 40-45 of our CRPF personnel were martyred. Who carried out the bomb attack in the (CRPF) bus? Jaish-e-Mohammad. You might remember Masood Azhar. During the previous government of the 56-inch people, today's NSA Ajit Doval went in an aircraft with Masood Azhar ji and handed him over," Rahul said while addressing a party function here.
Rahul was referring to release of Azhar in exchange of hostages of hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999. Indian Airlines plane was hijacked during its flight from Kathmandu to Delhi and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
No sooner Rahul made the comment, BJP slammed him and accused him of loving terrorists.
"#RahulLovesTerrorist" started trending on Twitter from the BJP's official handle minutes after Rahul Gandhi's comment.
"Rahul Gandhi is filled with respect for Masood Azhar who is chief of JeM which is responsible for taking lives of 44 of our brave soldiers in Pulwama. #RahulLovesTerrorists," tweeted BJP.
"What is common between Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan? Their love for terrorists. Please note Rahul ji’s reverence for terrorist Masood Azhar - a testimony to #RahulLovesTerrorists", tweeted union minister and BJP leader Smriti Irani, along with the short video of the Congress President's comment for reference.
Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed sought to downplay the issue, saying, "if he (Rahul) said 'ji', it is just use of dignified language."
He, however, said the BJP should answer as to who had accompanied Azhar in an aircraft to leave him free in Kandahar. (ANI)