The Bihar government has come in for sharp criticism as none of its Ministers were present at the Patna airport on Sunday to receive the body of Central Reserve Police Force Inspector Pintu Singh who was killed in a gun battle in Kashmir. The Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and other NDA leaders were allegedly busy with the Sankalp rally that was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Inspector Pintu Singh, 35, was killed in an encounter in Handwara area of Jammu and Kashmir on March 1. His body was brought to the Patna airport en route to his home in Bagras-Dhyanchakki village in Begusarai district.
While the Ministers and leaders of the ruling BJP-JD(U) were conspicuous by their absence, State Congress president Madan Mohan Jha and Lok Janshakti Party leader Choudhary Mahboob Ali Kaiser were present at the airport to pay tributes to the slain soldier.
Barely three hours later, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, along with his Cabinet Ministers, reached the airport to receive the Prime Minister who had come to address the rally.
State BJP leader and Minister of Labour Resources Vijay Sinha reached the soldier’s home in Begusarai late on Sunday night, hours after the funeral was over. Angry family members of the jawan said the absence of State Ministers at the funeral was an “insult to the martyr”.
In a video which has gone viral on social media, the Minister is seen telling the grieving family that there was a “communication gap and misunderstanding about the timing of the funeral”. He also said that because of the crowd at the Sankalp rally, he could not reach on time for the last rites.
The jawan’s grieving father, Chakradhar Singh, later told journalists that the NDA leaders chose to neglect his son to attend the Patna rally.
“It shows how concerned they are about the soldiers. NDA leaders were more concerned about the Sankalp rally of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. They have neglected to pay homage to a brave soldier who died for the country,” Chakradhar Singh said.
His brother Sanjay Kumar Singh said, “Pintu has not received the honour he deserved from the State government. No NDA leader came to the airport… it hurts.”
Later, JD(U) national vice-president and election strategist Prashant Kishor tweeted to apologise on behalf of his party. “We are sorry for the error of judgment on part of those of us who should have been there with you in this hour of grief,” tweeted Mr. Kishor.
Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav slammed the ruling alliance’s disrespect to the slain soldier.