Congress distances itself from Digvijaya Singh on Batla House

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday distanced itself from party general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s statement that the 2008 Batla House gunfight was a “fake encounter” and maintained that the erstwhile UPA government had considered a “set of evidences” and found the encounter genuine.

“On Batla House encounter case the then Congress government and the then home minister (Shivraj Patil) had considered an entire set of evidences and examined all the facts and they had taken a correct decision. The decision (that it was a genuine encounter) was upheld by the court and NHRC,” party spokesman Randeep Surjewalla said at the party’s media briefing.

He, however, said that as an individual, Digvijaya Singh is entitled to his opinion.

“As a senior and elder leader of the party, we have deep regards for Digvijaya Singh. I respect his sentiments. Every individual is entitled to his opinion,” he said.

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Earlier, another party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi also rejected Singh’s remark saying: “Congress has always maintained and also the then Congress-led government of prime minister Manmohan Singh, and home minister Shivraj Patil, that this was not a fake encounter.”

“The Delhi High Court orders, the National Human Rights commission judgements and the government of India stand was that this was not a fake encounter. What is the point of calling individual statements, which have no relevance? The government of India’s stand then, as now, is the same,” Singhvi said.

Former home minister Shivraj Patil also said that the encounter was genuine.

“Have I changed my stand? I have said in past that the encounter wasn’t fake. That means information which was given to the home minister and the home ministry by the police who were actually involved in the encounter was relied upon, and it was said that it was an ‘encounter’,” Patil told a TV channel.

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The remarks come a day after senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Tuesday stuck to his earlier stance that the 2008 Batla House gunfight, in which two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed, was “fake”.

A video footage telecast on a TV channel claimed that a suspect Bada Sajid, who reportedly had escaped on the day of incident, was seen in an “IS video”.

Asked about Digvijaya Singh’s remarks on the encounter, Patil said: “I don’t want to comment on what he should have done and he should not have done. I am only saying that on the basis of the information available to me, we had come to the conclusion that it was an encounter. If he had come to me I would have spoken to him.”

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