Chidambaram rebuts Digvijay, says Batla House shootout genuine (Lead)

January 12th, 2012 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Rejecting Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s claim that the September 2008 Batla House gun battle in Delhi with suspected terrorists was fake, Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday said the shootout was genuine and there was “no scope for re-opening the matter”.

“After looking into the matter, after I took over as home minister, we came to the conclusion that the encounter was a genuine one… there is no scope for reopening the matter,” Chidambaram said during a briefing of the Group of Ministers (GOM) on media here.

Chidambaram’s statement comes a day after Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh repeated his view that the shootout may have been fake.

“The prime minister and home minister were of the view that the encounter was true. That’s why I did not not press it (the demand for a new probe into the gunfight) further,” Singh told media persons before an election rally addressed by Rahul Gandhi at Azamgarh Wednesday.

In the Sep 19, 2008, Batla House shootout in Delhi, two alleged Indian Mujahideen members, and one police officer were killed. Certain local groups and some political parties alleged it was a staged shootout.

Opposition leaders, with an eye to the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls next month, were Thursday quick to raise the contradictory opinions aired by the two Congress leaders on the sensitive Batla House shootout issue.

Political circles feel the resurfacing of the Batla House controversy may pose a fresh problem for the party in the Uttar Pradesh polls.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused Singh of playing “dirty politics” and “appeasing the minority for a few votes” and sought a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

“Digvijay Singh says Batla House encounter was fake… it is an insult to the martyrs,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said here.

“How low would they stoop for a few votes,” he said, adding that his party condemned it.

“Let the prime minister come out of his silent mode and explain to the country what is the case. A police officer died and here is a Congress leader giving boost to terrorists,” the BJP spokesperson said.

“Digvijay Singh is ‘his majesty’s voice’, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should explain if they agree with his point of view,” he said.

On the other hand, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav said in Lucknow that Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit should be taken to task for the “fake encounter”.

He demanded that there should be fresh inquiry into the “fake Batla House encounter”.

Digvijay Singh Thursday said that he believed the Batla Hosue shootout was fake, but did not press on the issue because the prime minister believed otherwise.

“That had been his (Singh’s) views …We had differences over it… I respect his views,” Chidambaram said.

“But every authority who has looked into it (the case) has agreed that it was a genuine encounter. So, while there is a difference of opinion, I think the matter rests where it stands today. I don’t think there is any scope for reopening that matter,” Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram said Singh’s statement was his personal view. “This has been his view from the beginning… we have a difference in opinion,” he said.

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