The BJP has accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of giving honour and respect to Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, by referring to the terrorist leader as 'Masood Azhar Ji' in a rally.
The remarks had been made by Rahul Gandhi in a speech in Delhi on Monday where he had once again attacked the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government over the release of Masood Azhar in exchange for the safe return of the passengers of hijacked plane IC-814 in 1999.
Rahul Gandhi's precise words, while speaking about the dastardly February 14 Pulwama terror attack, are:
"40 CRPF soldiers lost their lives. Who was responsible for the bombing? Listen, it was Jaish-e-Mohammad. Masood Azhar. Do you remember? Now, the one who has 56-inch chest, do you remember that during his previous government, the Security Advisor Ajit Doval sat with Masood Azhar Ji in an aircraft and handed him over to Kandahar."
No hint of sarcasm, either verbal or non-verbal, is discernable in his remarks.
Consequent to this, an edited video of Rahul Gandhi simply saying the words 'Masood Azhar ji' has been shared by the BJP, where the party writes:
"This much respect for the head of the terrorist organisation that perpetrated the attack in which 44 brave Jawans were martyred!"
A similar video has also been shared by Union Minister Smriti Irani, who asks:
"What is common between Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan? Their love for terrorists."
Rahul Gandhi has been criticised by the BJP for his and his fellow Opposition leaders' statements questioning the Indian Air Force over the February 26 air strike on Pakistan's terror bases across the LoC. The Congress president had been referred to by name by no less than the Foreign minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in an interview where the latter was attempting to bolster his country's case.