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Opposition accuse the minister of likening India’s lowest social caste, formerly known as untouchables, to dogs..—AFP/File
Opposition accuse the minister of likening India’s lowest social caste, formerly known as untouchables, to dogs..—AFP/File

NEW DELHI: One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ministers was accused of stoking caste tensions in India on Thursday after two Dalit children were burnt alive in a case that has triggered street protests.

Junior foreign minister V.K. Singh sought to deflect criticism of the government over the sensitive case by saying the administration could not be blamed for everything, even somebody stoning a dog.

“On everything, say even a dog getting hit by a stone, you can’t blame the government. That is not the way,” Singh told reporters early on Thursday.

Opposition political parties seized on the comments and accused the minister of likening India’s lowest social caste of Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, to dogs.

The comments came after a nine-month-old boy and his toddler sister were burnt alive in an arson attack on Tuesday in Faridabad district, around 40 kilometres outside New Delhi. His mother is in critical condition in hospital.

Authorities say caste violence is not the motive for the attack, but the district has since been tense, with Dalits blocking a highway in protest on Wednesday and police pouring into the area.

Caste violence has long blighted India where the ancient and rigid social hierarchy still holds sway especially in rural areas.

Facing a mounting backlash, Singh, a former army general, rejected on Thursday night the criticism, saying his comments about dogs and the tragic deaths were unrelated.

“What I said was very clear that please do not blame the government for everything local that happens,” Singh told India Today TV.

“If by any stretch of imagination, (though) it was not intended...if someone has felt hurt because someone has maliciously twisted my sentences then I have no qualms in apologising,” he added.

The opposition Congress party called for his resignation, branding the comments shameful and immoral.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has accused the government of not doing enough to protect the poor and those from the lowest castes who suffer prejudice and violence.

Three people have been arrested over the attack in which the family’s home was doused with petrol and set alight.

Local authorities have said the case was related to a long-running feud between the victims’ family and members of the higher Rajput caste, which also claimed the lives of three people a year ago.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2015

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Comments (67) Closed



Must read this.. Oct 23, 2015 07:46am

Modi government has pushed India in reverse gear and heading towards a concrete wall.

Another Indian Oct 23, 2015 08:39am

Desperate Congress despots have been waiting for so long to pounce on this government.

PARKASH Oct 23, 2015 08:46am

Some thing is terrifically wrong with their belief because these extremists believe that the low castes and poverty are the creation of God and it is because of the sins committed by the people born in low castes.

Ali Oct 23, 2015 09:09am

Seems like its bit unfair that everything is tied to Modi government even the indvidual events....the dalit burnt case was an old dispute between 2 groups....Also this minister's statement is taken out of context....

:( Oct 23, 2015 09:11am

Sickening

deva Oct 23, 2015 11:02am

minister statement was taken out of context. Congress and it's dirty politics to divide nation on religion and caste line is working on full pace

Padmakar Oct 23, 2015 11:23am

Media is quoting him out of context.

Zeeshawn Oct 23, 2015 11:33am

It amazes me when few Indian commentators here defend Modi over burnt children, lynching for eating beef, disgracing high official hosts and so on. Period

N.Sid Oct 23, 2015 11:34am

Even if the minister statement is taken out of context isn't it true that Dalits are regarded as 'untouchables' in India and they are a marginalized and a poverty stricken group. The quota's for these low caste people notwithstanding. Such a huge dichotomy and paradox in Indian society.

Indian Muslim Oct 23, 2015 11:42am

Dalits are treated worst by upper caste hindus in India....more dalits are attacked in India than any other community

Maxx Oct 23, 2015 11:48am

The fault lines in the Indian caste and creed based society is getting fully exposed with a Hindu nationalist government at the center. Earlier there were layers of veils which has kept the secularism mantra barely surviving.

Thavasee Oct 23, 2015 11:49am

@deva Mere statements divides a nation; Burning children s on caste lines, lynching the Muslim family members of Indian Air Force Personnel don't divide a nation? That was a sarcastic comment by you ,worse than this feudalistic General. He was one of worst General that Indian Army had seen; he just acted too honest and got a minister post.

Kamal Pasha Oct 23, 2015 11:51am

@Ali , Then why Modi is silent on every attack on the minorities?

Adnan H Oct 23, 2015 11:58am

What can be judged by this ministers 'Dog' comment about Dalits and Modi 'puppy' comment about Muslims after Gujarat massacre...Dalits and Muslims are equal when it comes to inequality in Indian caste based society.

Asad Oct 23, 2015 11:59am

Rising shining India

JP Oct 23, 2015 12:00pm

@Zeeshawn Blame Modi for his words and his policies. People are looking for excuses to blame him for everything. These dog remarks were taken out of context. The intent of the statement was that the administration was being blamed every street level incident, as if it was driven from the top. Name one dalit-hostile policy that BJP has. Cite one dalit-hostile remark that Modi made. India is no more unsafe for anyone, than any other country with a similar level of development.

salim Oct 23, 2015 12:01pm

Can you imagine caste system in the biggest democracy! of world.

noshin Oct 23, 2015 12:04pm

india should come out of class disinction especially in state affairs

noshin Oct 23, 2015 12:05pm

Equality is the solution to disparity.

Rahul Oct 23, 2015 12:05pm

VKS didn't mean it actually... he said this statement inadvertently!...he is very new into politics and still learning it... by heart, otherwise he is a wise and honest man and that's why in the Modi cabinet. He can be given benefit of doubt for this incident...

Yutaka Masura Oct 23, 2015 12:08pm

I will never ever think of going to India.

Akhtar Oct 23, 2015 12:10pm

The class system is outdated. For a so called "Democratic" country this sort of behaviour is deplorable. Truly barbaric.

noshin Oct 23, 2015 12:12pm

@Rahul seems to be optimistic about state minister.

Adnan H Oct 23, 2015 12:13pm

@noshin Caste system is ingrained in Hindu religion, can't be undone or removed.

gk1337 Oct 23, 2015 12:15pm

being Indian, it is my duty to tell you that common indian public does NOT support this. But we are democracy where everyone has right to say & can say, so can't do anything than just ignore.

Nabeel Safdar Oct 23, 2015 12:26pm

the worlds biggest democracy has grave issue at its hands, if religion was not enough to bring shame, adding insult to the injury is the caste issue in this era for technology. If this isn't a wake-up call what is then?

Talha Oct 23, 2015 12:27pm

@deva How can you defend such a comment. VK Singh could have used a better example to analogize with the sad incident but bringing in dogs just show that subconscious mentality of upper caste Hindus in very bad with those from the lower castes. India needs to shun vaste system and treat minorities with equal respect.

Rome cruiser Oct 23, 2015 12:42pm

Nothing surprises me about the present Indian government.

Issah Oct 23, 2015 12:49pm

@gk1337 that might be Indian democracy but real democracy has nothing to with the Indian ideals!

Jawad Oct 23, 2015 01:00pm

Indian leaders fight with each other like crazy calling bad words

kashor Oct 23, 2015 01:11pm

Ministers not applying their mind is a serious problem for Modi Govt. Such insensitive remarks are an embrassment. Modi needs to take regular class of his ministers.

A Pakistani Oct 23, 2015 01:22pm

Indian Ministers seem to be outdoing their Pakistani counterparts in proving how "brainless" they are.

Minister justifying rape Minister calling Dalits as dogs Minister giving even the dog a bad name Minister conducting pogroms against Muslims and Christians The list is endless....

With such leaders no wonder India finds itself in such unjustifiable situations.

Neutral Oct 23, 2015 02:02pm

Caste system still prevalent in India and recently, it's a trend for the people from the upper Caste to kill/lynching people from lower Caste. India must understand that this kind of shameful act is watching everyone all over this world and Indians doesn't have the voice to say that all Hindus are same. (Hindus killing Hindus and Hindus discriminating Hindus on the basis of caste). This evil is still in India in each and every sector. The comment from a union minister like this emphasis the government's stand on people of lower Caste. Mr. Singh, u pls resign or commit suicide and save India..

Neutral Oct 23, 2015 02:05pm

@Rahul. Being an Indian, I would say, statements like this by a minister or any minister is shameful for the whole country and he should resign and apologise. Are u still in banana Republic?

Neutral Oct 23, 2015 02:09pm

@deva. Being an Indian. I ask u one question if u think that his comments are misquoted and this caste based oppression and discrimination is not prevalent in India.... Will you allow your brother or sister to marry from a lower caste or dalit?

A common pakistani Oct 23, 2015 02:12pm

so low

Sid Oct 23, 2015 02:13pm

@Must read this.. sometimes you need to go back to go forward.

Dalit Oct 23, 2015 02:13pm

India is the worst country to live for a dalit Here people see each other on the basis of caste. You cannot see this kind of discrimination in any other country. Only I heard of raciism towards blacks. But in India it's much more than that. People from Upper caste are trying to suppress the dalits Nd even treating then as 2nd citizen.

fida Oct 23, 2015 02:14pm

The true face of the communal India.

Sid Oct 23, 2015 02:15pm

@Kamal Pasha Why should Modi speak on every topic just because some people are insecure? The news channels are waiting for modi to respond so they can kind out spark controversy like in the case of VK Singh. Modi does not have to speak on every topic. He is busy working on India's economy right now and the fruits of development will be shared by all Indians.

Ijaz Oct 23, 2015 02:21pm

Terrible and unfortunate use of words. He should be dismissed as a minister

Sid Oct 23, 2015 02:22pm

@fida Yes India is communal. So what? What's the conclusion even if you prove it?

kashmiri Pandit Oct 23, 2015 02:42pm

@Zeeshawn Modi didn't burn the children get your facts right neither he did the lynching. There were old enmity between families the dalit victim family last year killed the 3 members of accused family and the man who is victim was also involved in it.

kashmiri Pandit Oct 23, 2015 02:44pm

@Talha India treat its minorities very well that's why their number increased after independence. India already give this people reservation in govt jobs even theyr passed with zero number and even give promotion even when they don't know what to do in office.

SK Oct 23, 2015 02:45pm

@Another Indian - Yes, so sad to see the peace loving Modi and shiv sena angels being blamed for hate mongering and looking down on others. The world’s largest “democracy” which has so painfully preserved the democratic traditions of caste discrimination is not being appreciated. Come to think of it - even South Africans gave up their democratic traditions of apartheid - and guess what? people ‘praised' Mandela!. The world is so unjust.

Changez_Khan Oct 23, 2015 02:46pm

When you have uneducated people as Ministers that's what you will get 'uneducated remarks'. So these kind of people will push India into 'Stone Age' once again.

Ali Oct 23, 2015 02:47pm

Such a stupid argument that the "dog" comments are taken out of context.... What out of context, he said what he believed. it's in his & his compatriots believes from the day one. Every sensible person was expecting this from Modi government.

aamir Oct 23, 2015 02:56pm

Apart from unappreciated political gain the opposition parties are trying to gain, the incident is sad for all because these kinds of violent happenings always bring bad name to whole society and country. Immature and careless comments of the federal minister are not only punishable but also mournful to all as he is the official who supposed to represent whole country.

ibrahim Oct 23, 2015 03:02pm

The recent invdents have the same common response frm the govt..govt is not resp fr everyhing happening at street levet...wat is govt resp fr...if an indian walking on a street has no security or safety provided or deemed to be provided by the govt then who is responsible for all this mess. I can kill someone because i dnt like that person. The govt os nt responsible and i wont go to jail or appear in court. The govt hud deny resp and authority at the same time.

SK Oct 23, 2015 03:03pm

@JP - India no more unsafe for muslims? People get lynched because someone thinks they have beef in their fridge. Where else has this happened = other than in “safe” India? Regarding Modi - have you chosen to ignore the tv interview Modi walked out of because he did not want to even say he was sorry for a thousand muslims who were “lovingly” slaughtered by his supporters under his watch as CM? Are you for real? Get a life JP - and I hope some day you will wake up to the curse of caste system that is much worse than apartheid ever was.

Vinay Oct 23, 2015 03:13pm

NDA Govt is fat better than UPA Govt... UPA Govt Used Minorities as Vote bank

Vinay Oct 23, 2015 03:17pm

@Dalit Bro ask this to congress... since independence this congress party intentionally done this for the votes... Now everyone realized the true face of congi...

Kashif Oct 23, 2015 03:18pm

For my Indian Fellows, without being unreasonable I think it's in the best interest of India & BJP that this minister should resign. Yes it's possible that his words are taken out of context but in such situation & environment, one should choose words carefully and if this guy can't even choose the words carefully then seriously do you think he deserves to be in power ??? On such incident, he should have gone to mourn the death of poor's family and must have pressed police to catch the perpetrators but he is just fueling the fire

Aub Oct 23, 2015 03:21pm

@Dalit the problrm would only be solved when dalits themself want them self not to be consider as dalits. When you yourself claiming that you want to remain dalit then how will it improve.their is not cast sytem in Vedas.it is only Verna system.which is purely based on karma.so do good karma. Modern society is also divided into Verna system .

Vinay Oct 23, 2015 03:21pm

@Ali Bro you said correct.. everything is being linked to modi whether it is related non related... this kind of work done by only Congi becoz they even did not get the opposition status... so this kind of politics is common every where...

Vinay Oct 23, 2015 03:24pm

@Yutaka Masura good thinking

Dinesh Oct 23, 2015 03:26pm

Everyone knows exactly what the Ministers comments meant, but opposition parties tried to twist the comments.

Even when Rahul Gandhi catches a cold, PM Modi will be blamed for it. 'Communal politics' is 'vote-bank politics' in India. It has kept India backward for such a long time.

Dinesh Oct 23, 2015 03:30pm

@salim In India, political parties rely on a certain community for their votes. It's one of the reason why the caste system still flourishes there. In UK/USA, no Indian cares about the caste of another.

Vinay Oct 23, 2015 03:33pm

@Aub rightly said... Till dalist consider themselves as Dalits they cant compete the world. They should feel as equal as others

Ali Oct 23, 2015 03:34pm

SID you are living in Fools paradise & totally biased. Why not Modi should not speak out? He's the Prime Minister, the main person responsible to run the country, so isn't this his responsibility? Economy is part of job & not the full/only job. Most importantly Modi is not even condemning the while extremist ideology behind all these atrocities.

Xinyang Peng, Shenzen Oct 23, 2015 03:34pm

@Indian Muslim

This same VK Singh evacuated 12000 Indian Muslims from Yemen recently. He set up control room in the middle east. He personally flew on the flights and on occasions got the air space clearances as he kept flying across the region. He got the permissions to dock the Indian ships using every possible try he could.

Any common sense person can understand that he did not equate dalits to dogs

Hindusthani Oct 23, 2015 03:35pm

VK SINGH went mad may be?

zafar Oct 23, 2015 03:58pm

Wat he said was modi thinking

wajid Oct 23, 2015 05:07pm

Modi promised "ache din" but not for every one.

MARS Oct 23, 2015 06:23pm

It's beneath contemptible to call Gods creations as untouchables. Untouchables are those who call Dalits untouchables.

Dalit Oct 23, 2015 07:37pm

@Vinay Bro... It's need some time.. How can a dalit suddenly flourish when majority of the property are held by the upper caste and made them suppressed for more than 1000years...it will take time... Read history....

hassan Oct 23, 2015 08:09pm

It amazes that some Indians are defending the remarks saying that the minister was quoted out of context...