Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma’s visit to pay tribute to the murder accused in Dadri lynching case has stoked new controversy.
The photo of Sharma folding his hands and paying obeisance to the dead body of Ravi, who had died in police custody of chikungunya, had gone viral on social media platforms.
Sharma, who is the local MP, also handed over a cheque of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Ravi Sisodia, a key accused in the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in September last year.
The controversy started after the minister tweeted a picture of his visit, along with the message: “Now Bisada [the village where the lynching took place and from where the victim and the accused hailed] will be settled.”
Met the family of deceased Ravi in Bisara village, Greater Noida. Bisara get settled now pic.twitter.com/RfDzga3ddC
— Dr. Mahesh Sharma (@dr_maheshsharma) October 7, 2016
Sharma’s tweet came even as the social media users condemned the villagers’ decision to drape a murder accused’s body with the tricolour, an honour reserved for national heroes.
His family refused to cremate him without adequate compensation from the Uttar Pradesh government, which then offered a generous amount of Rs 20 lakh despite Ravi being accused of brutally murdering an innocent person.
Speaking to The Hindu, Sharma said, “I visited the family as Bisada is part of my constituency. As the representative of the area in Parliament, it is my social commitment. The situation at Bisada was stressful; at least 1,500 policemen were deployed there as the Sisodia family was on a fast, refusing to cremate the body. Had the situation not been controlled, there could have been clashes.”
Most of the the accused in the murder of Akhlaq, father of an Indian Air Force personnel, are direct relatives of local BJP leader Sanjay Rana.
Many social media users found Sharma’s visit to Dadri on Air Force Day utterly deplorable as an overwhelming number of users were already angry on India’s national flag being insulted by BJP supporters in Dadri.
Here are some of the reactions;
Such respect for a Murder accused by a Union Minister- a murder accused whose body then draped in tricolour. Is this our 'Nationalism'? https://t.co/q5qIJ4EK0V
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 8, 2016
Tricolour on coffin of murder accused? What's going on? Or UP Elections are here? Shameful.. https://t.co/AmTvsu1Dza
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) October 8, 2016
Is there not a single Army general in any war room – real or fake – who is disturbed by the sight of the tricolour over a murderer?
— Rahul Pandita (@rahulpandita) October 7, 2016
Inexplicable, how a union minister can tacitly encourage the lynching of a soldier's father and demoralise the Indian military https://t.co/FrNhUqfLBu
— Saikat Datta (@saikatd) October 8, 2016
Has he done this kind of naman-namaskar to the remains of soldiers who died in Uri? https://t.co/fFYGpyqy1k
— MukhiaJi (@mukhiasudeep) October 8, 2016
Union minister tweeting proudly about meeting the family of a man accused to have murdered the father of a soldier…. https://t.co/65X497vLCk
— Rohini Singh (@Rohinisgh_ET) October 8, 2016
— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) October 7, 2016
@dr_maheshsharma r u out of ur mind. U r saluting a criminal where Tiranga is used with him.
— Neeraj Srivastava (@NeerajCon) October 7, 2016
बीमारी के कारण मरे रवि के घर पहुँचे केंद्रीय मंत्री @dr_maheshsharma
किन्तु इनके पास उरी के शहीद 18 जवानों के घर जाने का वक़्त नहीं है🙈🙉🙊 pic.twitter.com/AZRxXVpEKp
— Nadim Ram Ali 🇮🇳 (@imNadimRamAli) October 9, 2016