New Delhi: Union Minister V.K. Singh on Thursday blamed a family feud for the burning alive of two Dalit children in Haryana and drew an analogy that if someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible.
But as the comment stirred up a controversy, the minister came out with a clarification and said he did not intend to draw a comparison.
"If someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible. It was a feud between two families, the matter in under inquiry," Singh told reporters.
His comment came after two children were burnt alive while their parents were critically injured when the house of the Dalit family in Haryana's Faridabad district was set on fire on Tuesday.
"Failure of administration should not be put on government's head," he added.
But after a row broke out over his remark, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala sought the minister's removal, adding that he should be booked under law.
"What V.K. Singh said was shocking, inhuman and it is unacceptable... I do not understand what is happening to Modi's ministers," Surjewala told media.
"He should be booked under prevention of atrocities against SC and ST Act," he said.
The minister later clarified: "My statement wasn't intended to draw an analogy. My men and I put our lives on the line for the nation irrespective of caste, creed and religion."
"I standby to serve India with the same spirit, right now and always. Our nation, its success and its people motivate me daily," he said in a series of tweets.
He, however, added that "localised issues" should not be blown up.
"As citizens of this great nation we are sensitive but also responsible. The agenda of India is bigger than any single neighbourhood or individual... We must stand united and let no one exploit our diversity by blowing up localised issues," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought the sacking of union minister V.K. Singh and a police case against him for his controversial analogy on the Dalit killings.
"V.K. Singh's statement is shameful and prosecutable under the SC/ST Act. A case should be registered against him immediately," Kejriwal tweeted.
He "should be thrown out of the cabinet before the evening", the Aam Aadmi Party leader added.
He said if Prime Minister Narendra Modi "wants to celebrate Dusshera in the real sense, then he should rid his cabinet of evil and arrogance".