Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday first said his controversial statement on alleged beef eating by Muslims had been twisted but then said he was ready to offer his regrets if his comments had hurt anyone’s sentiments.
Khattar was quoted as telling an English daily on Friday that “Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef as the cow is an article of faith here”. He later told the media here that his statement had been “twisted” by the daily.
However, Khattar’s recorded interview (in audio) was released by the daily and played by news channels, making it clear that he had indeed made the controversial statement.
The statement was made in a context of last month’s killing of a Muslim man in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh by a mob who suspected that he ate beef.
After claiming he never made the beef statement, Khattar said: “However, even if you believe that if any of the words spoken by me, there was no intention (of hurting anyone’s sentiments). If anyone’s sentiments are hurt by my statements, I am ready to offer my regrets for this.”
Khattar, who completes one year in office as chief minister on October 26, maintained that the cow, Bhagwad Gita and goddess Saraswati were articles of faith for the Hindu community.
He maintained that the constitution, which had no provision banning cow slaughter or consuming beef, had the provision that no one should do anything that offends the faith of another religion.
A political greenhorn and first-time legislator, Khattar, a former RSS pracharak, was chosen by the BJP to head its first government in Haryana last year, overlooking the claims more experienced leaders.