Published: March 2, 2020 4:56:14 am
The Valmiki community in Punjab has accused state Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu of insulting them by using the phrase ‘Valmiki mafia’.
They were referring to a viral video of Ashu purportedly using the phrase. The minister, however, said his statement had been portrayed wrongly.
Valmiki community members alleged that during a meeting held a few days ago in Ludhiana on door-to-door garbage collection, the minister allegedly said the project wasn’t materialising because of the obstructions being created by ‘Valmiki mafia’.
Members of the community, including sweepers and sanitary employees from the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, staged a protest against Ashu on Sunday at Clock Tower in Ludhiana. They demanded that minister be dismissed from the Cabinet.
Raising slogans against Ashu, the protesters also carried placards and said that the community will not tolerate such comments by a minister. “Ashu nu barkhaast karo…Valmiki shakti zindabad…,” they chanted.
In a statement, the minister said, “I did not use the word mafia for Valmiki community but instead for the people who are trying to take advantage of them. My statement has been portrayed in a wrong way.”
“I have always stood for safeguarding the rights of Valmiki community. During my tenure as a councillor in Municipal Corporation Ludhiana, I made several friends from Valmiki community who have been supporting me all these years…My political opponents with vested interests have been unsuccessfully trying very hard to malign my image for the last several months. Such people have been falling flat each time, they try to do so because residents of Ludhiana know me personally. It is out of sheer desperation now that they are trying to make issues out of non-issues by making baseless claims against me,” said Ashu’s statement.
The minister further said that members of the Valmiki community are the “backbone” of the Municipal Corporation.
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