Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Monday defended party MLA Alpesh Thakor after members of an outfit which he leads were arrested in connection with the attacks on Hindi-speaking migrants in Gujarat, and alleged that the BJP government was trying to politicise the issue.
Since the rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district on September 28 and the arrest of a labourer hailing from Bihar for the crime, six districts, most of them in north Gujarat, have seen sporadic incidents of violence against Hindi-speaking people.
Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, without naming the Congress, said on Monday that efforts were underway to find out whether "it is a conspiracy by those who are out of power in Gujarat since the last 22 years".
While police have arrested several members of the Kshatriya Thakor Sena in connection with the attacks and also mentioned the outfit's name in some of the FIRs, its president and Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor has alleged that youths from the community were being falsely implicated.
Speaking to media in Bharuch on Monday, Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, said that Jadeja was trying to politicise the issue.
"I think he was trying to politicise the issue. The way he was saying it, I wonder if there was a conspiracy behind what is happening" Patel said.
"Alpesh Thakor has clearly denied his role in these attacks on migrant workers" said Patel.
Patel said the Gujarat government should probe why people were fleeing the state and warned that these incidents may happen in other states as well.
"Innocent people must not be harassed as they are also Indians. If such things happen in one state, then it may also start in other states too. We have seen what happened in Mumbai. We should not target everyone for the sins of a few," Patel said.
"Despite heavy deployment of police, such attacks are still happening. It proves that the perpetrators have been given a free hand by the state government" Chavda alleged.
"People are having a perception that the BJP and its government here are promoting such attacks to divert attention from party's imminent loss in the upcoming Assembly polls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh," Chavda claimed.
"The Vibrant Gujarat Summit as well as Diwali are approaching. We have urged the government to work together and re-establish industrial peace in the state. Around 50 per cent of migrant workers have stopped coming in many industrial estates in Gujarat" said Vasa.
"There are around 400 factories in this estate. These factories employ around 2,000 migrant workers. Out of these, some 1,000 have left work and have gone back to their native places" claimed Patel.
Earlier Monday, Gujarat-based outfit Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad had claimed that over 20,000 Hindi-speaking migrants had fled the state in the last one week after a spate of attacks following the rape incident.
Hours after the rape of the toddler in a village near Himmatnagar town in Sabarkantha, police had arrested Ravindra Sahu, a labourer hailing from Bihar and working in a local ceramic factory, for the crime.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)