New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi has backed giving asylum to Rohingya Muslims in India after security vetting, evoking a sharp reaction from Union minister Hansraj Ahir, who said those who have national interest in mind should not make such statements.
Ahir's criticism came after Varun expressed his views in an article in a Hindi daily.
Following the MoS Home Affair's remarks, Varun tweeted on Tuesday that his article focused primarily on defining India's asylum policy, with clear demarcations on how "we would accept refugees".
"As for the Rohingyas, I've called for empathy, leading potentially to asylum, while vetting each applicant for national security concerns (sic)," he tweeted.
Ahir, while criticising Varun's stand, said, "Jo desh ke hith mein sochenga woh is tarah ke bayan nahi dega (Anyone who has national interest in mind, won't make such statements)."
Varun's remarks were at variance with the government's stand on the issue.
Terming the Rohingya refugees as "illegal" immigrants, the government had recently told the Supreme Court that some of them were part of a "sinister" design of Pakistan's ISI and terror groups such as the ISIS, whose presence in the country will pose a "serious" national security threat.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had also last week said Rohingyas were not refugees who have applied for asylum in India but illegal immigrants who "will be deported".
The BJP, in its national executive meeting on Monday, adopted a resolution supporting the government's stand on the Rohingya issue, saying it fulfilled its responsibilities by providing humanitarian relief to Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees while ensuring that internal security was not compromised for its 125 crore citizens.