Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today demanded Congress leader Ahmed Patel's resignation as Rajya Sabha MP, alleging that a suspected ISIS operative arrested recently used to work at a hospital where Patel had been a trustee earlier.
Patel rejected the charge as "completely baseless" and urged the BJP not to politicise matters pertaining to national security and divide the peace-loving Gujaratis. Union minister Prakash Javadekar also said that the Congress "owes an explanation as to how a terrorist had been working there for so long".
Two suspected ISIS operatives were arrested by the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) two days ago. According to an FIR, one of the accused, Kasim Stimberwala, earlier worked as a technician at Sardar Patel Hospital in Ankleshwar town of Bharuch district.
Rupani said in Gandhinagar that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Patel owe a clarification to the nation as the matter pertains to national security. "This is a serious issue, as a terrorist was arrested from a hospital which is being run by Patel... It has now been revealed that though Patel had resigned as a trustee of that hospital in 2014, but he is still at the helm of the hospital's affairs," the Gujarat CM alleged.
"Imagine what would have happened if these two terrorists were not arrested... Patel, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress must come clean on the issue. We also want Patel to resign as Rajya Sabha MP," he demanded. "It has now been revealed that Kasim had resigned just two days before he was arrested. This raises several questions. Patel must clarify how such a person got a job in his hospital and why he resigned just days ahead of his arrest," Rupani said.
Replying to the charges, Patel tweeted, "My party and I appreciate the ATS' effort to nab the two terrorists. I demand strict and speedy action against them. The allegations put forward by the BJP are completely baseless." In another tweet, he said, "We request that matters of national security not be politicised keeping elections in mind. Let's not divide the peace loving Gujaratis while fighting terrorism."
Javadekar said in Bengaluru the Congress owes an explanation as to "how a terrorist could work so long at the hospital". The two IS suspects "were planning attacks on a Jewish religious place", he said. Congress in-charge of communications Randeep Surjewala came to the defence of Patel, saying neither he nor any of his family members was a trustee of the Bharuch Hospital where the alleged terrorist was working.
"A frustrated BJP facing imminent defeat in Gujarat is resorting to levelling reckless and baseless allegations against Ahmed Patel," he said. Sardar Vallabhai Patel Hospital is a charitable hospital and it has between 150-200 employees including doctors and technicians, he said.
"The BJP is being shown the door by 6.5 crore Gujaratis and a defeated BJP is clutching onto the polarising straws of blatant lies to reset the agenda. It will never succeed in its sinister conspiracies," the Congress leader said. He said the BJP should stop preaching about fighting terrorism to anyone.
"The BJP's track record on terrorism is quite dismal. Will Amit Shah and Vijay Rupani answer as to who permitted dreaded terrorist Dawood Ibrahim's wife to visit Mumbai and leave unscathed with the entire government sleeping over the same," he asked.
"The truth is that Vijay Rupani and his government fired upon and killed farmers in Dahod in Gujarat. The BJP is trying to divert attention," he alleged. The two suspected IS operatives had allegedly planned to carry out a "lone wolf" attack on a Jewish synagogue in Khadia area of the city.