BJP fumes on reference to Bhagat Singhs caste in Cong journal

New Delhi: The BJP on Tuesday attacked the Congress over reference to the castes of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh and Rajguru in the latest edition of the ruling party`s mouthpiece, saying it was an insult to the national heroes and demanded an apology from it.

The Congress, however downplayed the issue saying nothing much should be read into it as these are just biographical references.

"This is an insult to the nation`s heroes and it is not the first time that the Congress and its government has insulted the national heroes," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

"They have insulted them in a similar way many times through publication of various books. But now they have crossed the limit. The Congress party should apologise to the nation," he said

The March issue of `Congress Sandesh` describes Bhagat Singh as a freedom fighter "born in a Jat Sikh family" and Rajuguru as one "who belonged to the Deshastha Brahmin community."

However, editor of Congress Sandesh Anil Shastri, who is also a Special Invitee to the Congress Working Committee — the party`s apex decision-making body, found nothing objectionable in the content.

"This information is given when necessary and is not objectionable. In colleges and schools when we are taught history and whenever there is a reference to Mahatma Gandhi, it is mentioned that he was born in a Gujarati Baniya family.

The BJP, therefore, is raking up an issue which does not exist," Shastri said.

He said that the Congress party "has the higest regard and reverence for all those leaders and freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to attain freedor for India."

The Congress leader also hit out at the opposition party, saying "in any case, BJP has no right to talk about any freedom fighter because the party or any of its leaders were never associated or involved with freedom movement of the country."

He also accused the BJP of following a policy of divisiveness.

"They (BJP) have thrived by dividing society on basis of caste and religion. Lal Krishna Advani had himself admitted that the Rathyatra proved beneficial for BJP in elections.

What happened in Gujarat in 2002 is known to the entire world," Shastri said.

The magazine says "Bhagat Singh was a freedom fighter born to a Jat Sikh family in Lyallpur, Punjab, which had earlier been involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj. He is often referred to as Shaheed Bhagat Singh."

On Shivaram Hari Rajguru, it says he "was an Indian revolutionary from Maharashtra and belonged to the Deshastha Brahmin community. Rajguru was born in a place named Khed near Pune."

The Sandesh says "Sukhdev Thapar was born in Ludhiyana, Punjab. He was a freedom fighter who was involved with Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Rajguru in the killing of a British police officer J P Saunders in 1928 in order to take revenge for the death veteran leader Lala Lajpat Rai due to excessive police beating."