New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said the demonstration on the JNU campus to mark the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru received "support" from Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed. His remark sparked a political uproar with opposition leaders asking him to furnish evidence.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury posted a series of tweets to question Rajnath Singh on his remark.
"The Union Home Minister has made a very serious allegation about terrorists 'backing' JNU protests. We hope that he has concrete proof," Yechury wrote.
"When we met the Home Minister yesterday (Saturday), he never mentioned Hafiz Saeed to us but only harped on the slogans being raised at the protests.
"This seems to be a case of shifting goalposts with the sole design of tarnishing JNU.
"Considering the gravity of the charge made by no less than the Union Home Minister, we would like him to share the evidence with the country.
"We are concerned as we've seen this earlier with the Home Minister where he deleted his twitter updates about Pathankot attack terrorists," Yechury said.
Rajnath Singh on Sunday told reporters here that what happened at Jawaharlal Nehru University had the support of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and it was very unfortunate.
"What happened in JNU also got support from Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed. The nation must also accept the reality," he said.
While Rajnath Singh did not give any reference for his comment, a tweet recently surfaced from the Twitter handle @HafeezSaeedJUD with the hashtag #PakStandWithJNU that asked Pakistanis to trend the hashtag #SupportJNU for "pro-Pakistani JNUites brothers".
The Twitter handle, however, was not a verified one and it appeared that the tweet was later deleted.
A home ministry spokesperson later said the minister's remarks were based on inputs from various agencies.
"The home minister made his statement based on inputs from agencies," the spokesperson said.
Saeed is wanted in India for the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said Rajnath Singh should share evidence about his remarks concerning Saeed.
"That #HafizSaeed supported the #JNU protests is a very serious charge to level against the students. The evidence must be shared with all.
"The Home Minister must go public with the evidence collected that enabled him to level this charge against the #JNU students #HafizSaeed
"Cracking down on students & using #HafizSaeed to justify the crack down is a new low, even for this NDA government. #JNUCrackdown
"This is the same BJP that Mehbooba Mufti is negotiating with. No wonder she's completely silent & hasn't said a word about the #JNUCrackdown," Abdullah wrote.
Rajnath Singh, in his interaction with the media, also appealed to political parties to unite in opposing incidents where anti-national slogans are raised.
"I want to appeal to all parties, whenever there is an incident where anti-national slogans are raised, we must oppose it with one voice. There should not be attempts to get political gains from such incidents," he said.
On Saturday, the Congress, CPI-M, CPI and JD-U protested against the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges.
Rajnath Singh said anti-national activities would not be tolerated, but added that he had given instructions that the "innocent must be protected".
"Whoever raises anti-national slogans and questions the unity of India will not be spared. I have given the necessary instructions, I have also instructed that those who are innocent should not be harassed," he said.
On the night of February 9, some students organised a meet at JNU to mourn the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front co-founder Maqbool Bhat. Anti-India slogans were allegedly raised at the gathering.
Delhi Police registered a sedition case on Thursday and arrested Kanhaiya Kumar. He was sent to three days police custody on Friday although he denied raising the slogans.