statesman news service
Patna, 8 August
The ruling Nitish Kumar government in Bihar today came in for severe criticism for showing gross disregard towards the four soldiers who were killed by the Pakistani troops on Tuesday. While the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues stood away from paying their last respect to the bodies of the martyrs, one of them even sought to justify their absence by a rather shoddy logic that the soldiers are meant to be martyred, evoking sharp protests from various quarters.
The Rural Works and Panchayati Raj minister Bhim Singh said soldiers are meant to be killed. “Jawan to shahid hone ke liye hi hote hain na? Sena aur police me naukari kyon hoti hai? Aap thode shahid ho jaiyega? (The soldiers are meant to be martyred. Why else do people join Army and police? You will never have this opportunity),” the minister bluntly told the media today when asked why no minister reached the Patna airport to pay their last respects to the four martyred soldiers from Bihar.
“Had your father or mother gone to the airport receive the bodies?”, Mr Singh said. As his remarks evoked strong reactions, the minister later did a U-turn, apologising to everybody for offending the sentiments of the martyr&’s families, but put the entire blame on the media alleging that his statement had been distorted.
Although the chief minister came to his colleague&’s rescue saying the latter had regretted his remarks, the move invited bitter protests from the Opposition parties which sought for the immediate dismissal of the minister. “Only a mentally ill person can make such a remark. He must be dismissed from the Cabinet immediately,” said RJD general secretary Mr Ramkripal Yadav. The BJP too expressed dismay over the conduct of the minister and sought his sacking.
What was further shocking was that ministers were conspicuous by their absence during the cremation of the soldiers although the state government had announced state funerals. Finally when two ministers, agriculture minsiter Narendra Singh and sugarcane minister Awadhesh Prasad Kushwaha tried to visit the place, they were sent back by the mourning villagers.The ministers, however, attended the last rites of two other soldiers in Patna and Bhojpur districts.
Meanwhile, all the four soldiers were cremated with state honours today as the slogans of “Pakistan murdabad” and war cries rent the air.