Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar created a flutter on Saturday when he said that Muslims cannot be blamed for reacting to "atrocities" against them.
Addressing the tri-monthly meeting of Nationalist Congress Party workers at Belewadi, Pune, Pawar brought up the issue of framing of "innocent" Muslim youths in 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts by investigating agency, saying such incidents not only "inflicted unprecedented agony on their families but also virtually eroded their sense of belonging to India".
He said, "(In Malegaon bomb blasts case).. Nineteen Muslim youths were imprisoned for three years (before the alleged Hindu extremists were booked) ruining their lives. How would they feel that they belong to this country? We have to change our mindset with regard to this community."
"If someone gets angry because of such atrocities and reacts, how can he be blamed," he asked.
Referring to Ishrat Jahan encounter killing, Pawar said "what was her mistake? How can an innocent college girl be a terrorist? Three persons were shot dead in this encounter and now the police officers involved are being interrogated. But those families were ruined".