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Joshi house arson: CB-CID probe ordered
Published on 19 Jul. 2009 11:16 PM IST
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The Uttar Pradesh government Sunday announced a crime branch inquiry into the attack on state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s house after her remarks on Chief Minister Mayawati. But Joshi demanded that the probe be done by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). “Now, CB-CID (crime branch-criminal investigation department) would investigate the case,” state Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told reporters in Lucknow. Joshi’s house in Lucknow was set on fire Wednesday night allegedly by a group of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers for making remarks that offended Mayawati both as a woman and a Dalit. Joshi was arrested and charged under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. She was granted bail by a Moradabad court Saturday. Meanwhile, Joshi apologized for her remarks and demanded that the probe be done by the CBI. “I am sorry for what I said. My issue was right and it is a debatable one. The Uttar Pradesh government is very insensitive. They do not care for the women,” Joshi told reporters in New Delhi. “The probe should be done by the CBI,” she said. Joshi also accepted that she also felt embarrassed after making those remarks but her intention was not to hurt any individual or caste. “I was embarrassed for that seven-second line that I made during a seven minute speech, but the intention was not to demean any individual, forget about a caste,” she said. Joshi also said she was speaking on a woman-related issue and was trying to evoke the sensitivity of a woman chief minister. Joshi, who is in the national capital to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, described the charges against her as “disproportionate and illegal”, and said that she was “ready to go to jail a 100 times and will continue to fight for the poor, downtrodden and women’s rights”. Cong supports Joshi’s demand Though the Congress has distanced itself from the controversial remarks made by UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, it stood by her on Sunday in demanding a CBI inquiry into the torching of her house, saying state police could not be trusted in the matter. Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh demanded a CBI probe into the torching of Joshi’s house in Lucknow on the night of July 15. “UP police were there when BSP workers were torching Rita’s house. Therefore, I don’t expect them to be fair. Till the time the state government doesn’t recommend a CBI inquiry into the incident, Congress workers will demand it at every police station of the state,” he told reporters here. Joshi, who met Singh today, said she has emerged stronger after being jailed, but made it clear that her alleged derogatory remarks against UP Chief Minister were “not intentional”. Joshi will be meeting Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday. Reacting to the CBCID probe ordered by the state government, the Uttar Pradesh unit of Congress said it was a mere eyewash to give clean-chit to BSP workers and the party would continue to press its demand for a CBI probe to expose those involved in the arson. “The inquiry by the CBCID is an eyewash. How can a state agency, which works under pressure of the government justify the probe and nail workers of the ruling BSP?” Congress spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh said. The Mayawati government in UP has ordered a CB-CID probe into the incident in which two BSP leaders have already been arrested. Joshi, who is out on interim bail till July 29, had said that state police could not be trusted to conduct an impartial inquiry and the case should be handed over to CBI. Singh also took a dig at Mayawati, saying her comments against Rahul Gandhi yesterday were nothing new as she has been consistently attacking him on issues of Dalit empowerment. “She has not attacked Rahulji for the first time. She has been consistently attacking Rahulji on issues of dalit empowerment and his attention towards dalit issues,” Singh said. While touring his constituency Amethi, Gandhi had accused the Mayawati government of being inactive and “non-operational”. Mayawati accused the UPA government of being responsible for the state’s dismal power supply situation and demanded release of a “white paper” on the issue.

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