Rahul Gandhi, the Vice President of the Indian National Congress party, was furious with reporters following a comment made by one individual who had asked if his visit to a Haryana village Wednesday was simply a photo opportunity.
His response, “What do you mean!”
Gandhi reportedly was visiting the Haryana village on Wednesday as a result of an attack on a Dalit family, where two adults received serious injuries and their two children were burned alive. According to the Times of India on Tuesday, the family of four was reportedly attacked by “some people,” allegedly from an upper caste. The attackers reportedly poured petrol on the family while they were sleeping and set them and their home on fire.
NDTV went on to add that the family, including two children, ages 11 months and 2-years-old, were rushed to a nearby hospital, where the two children succumbed to their injuries. Their mother, meanwhile, is still fighting for her life after sustaining burns to 70 percent of her body.
The mother, who has since been identified as 23-year-old Rekha, is said to have thermal burns on her upper body and face, making her condition critical, though officials have stated that her condition is improving. The father was treated for burns on both of his hands but has since been released.
While talking with reporters regarding the situation, one individual reportedly asked Rahul Gandhi if his trip was a photo op.
Gandhi then lost his temper and responded, “Why is it a photo opportunity? People are dying left, right and center in this country. What do you mean by photo-op?”
What do you mean it’s a photo op? People are dying left right & centre in this country: Rahul Gandhi in Ballabhgarh https://t.co/6gGobm6cCh
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) October 21, 2015
Rahul Gandhi’s office later published a statement to further clarify what Gandhi meant in the video above.
According to the Indian Express, Tuesday’s attack is allegedly being reported as an act of vengeance stemming from a year-long feud between two communities. The father who was burned in the attack has since been identified as Jitender, and he told reporters that the attackers were Rajputs, who have been feuding with the Dalits over a murder that reportedly took place in October of 2014.
“They barged into our home when we were sleeping and they poured petrol from the window after locking our door from the outside. I could smell petrol and tried to wake up my wife, but by then the fire had started. My children died in the fire.”
According to Vishnu Dayal, the assistant commissioner of police (Sadar Ballabgarh sub-division), Tuesday’s attacked happened around 2:30 a.m. local time. It was then that locals noticed the Dalits’ home in flames. Villagers did what they could to help, and after getting everyone out of the burning home, they were taken to a government hospital nearby before being referred to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.
Police have reportedly arrested three suspects so far in connection with Tuesday’s attack. They have been identified as Dharam Singh, Balwant Singh, and Kartar Singh. Police have also launched a manhunt for nine other suspects, all of whom were reportedly named by Jitender himself.
While visiting the Haryana village Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi reportedly linked the attacks to Prime Minister Narendar Modi’s attitude. Gandhi reportedly stated that Jitender and his family were attacked because they were poor, and according to Gandhi, “in Haryana, the government is not of the weaker and poorer section.”
“This is an attitude shared by PM, CM and BJP-RSS. If somebody is weak, they can be crushed. What you are seeing is the result of this attitude.”
— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) October 21, 2015
[Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images]