Bengaluru/New Delhi, March 4
Karnataka BJP MLA Aravind Bellad on Friday kicked up a controversy with his “dead body takes more space” remarks over bringing back state native Naveen’s mortal remains from war-torn Ukraine, drawing strong rebuke from the Congress which slammed the saffron party saying “cruelty” was its DNA.
Bellad has said the body of Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagouda, who was killed in shelling in Ukraine on March 1, would occupy space that could be utilised to evacuate 10 to 12 stranded people from the eastern European country, even as Congress leader Randeep Surejewala attacked the Centre over the evacuation plan to rescue Indians.
Underlining that the Centre as well as the Karnataka government have been making every effort to bring Naveen’s body from Kharkiv in Ukraine, the Hubballi Dharwad West MLA stressed that the place where the body is kept is a war zone and it was difficult to transport it to India under current circumstances.
“It is a war zone. You (the media) are all showing the ground situation on television through your channels. The body will be brought once the flight services become operational,” Bellad said on Thursday.
“In a situation when bringing the living people is proving to be difficult, it will be even more difficult to bring the body because it occupies more space. In place of it, 10 to 12 people can be brought,” the BJP MLA said.
The ruling party legislator also noted that students migrate to chase their dream of getting a medical degree abroad because of hefty fees in India.
The BJP MLA’s comments drew sharp response from opposition Congress.
“Drunk with arrogance, power has gone into the head of heartless BJP leaders, particularly from Karnataka. (Union minister) Pralhad Joshi calls children in Ukraine as those ‘who failed NEET’. Arvind Bellad has lost his balance. Insensitivity and cruelty are now BJP’s DNA,” Surejwala, Congress chief spokesperson, said in a tweet.
He also said that “one thing is clear... in the Ukraine-Russian war, there is no plan to rescue the thousands of children who have been fighting for their life for the last nine days amid heavy bombing and missile attacks”.
“Is all the focus from Ukraine to Uttar Pradesh (where assembly polls are being held) only on managing PR and saving image,” Surejwala asked in another tweet in Hindi.
The Congress has been demanding safe and early evacuation of all Indian students from war-struck Ukraine and has attacked the BJP government for not taking steps to ensure earlier evacuation of Indians.
Naveen, a native of Chalageri in Haveri district, was holed in with others in a bunker in Kharkiv. On March 1, he ventured out to get some food, water and exchange currency notes when he was killed in shelling.
The body of the 22-year-old youth is lying in a morgue in Kharkiv. His parents have been requesting the Centre to get his son’s body back home for the final rites.
Meanwhile, Venkatesh Vaishyar, whose son Amit (23) and nephew Suman (24) from Chalageri are also stuck in the war-ravaged country, told PTI that they have been lodged in a school 20 kilometres away from Kharkiv along with about 1,700 Indians.
Amit and Suman could not board the train to the safe zones as the Ukrainian authorities gave priority to women and the natives of the country, he added.
The Indians staying in the school were given a loaf of bread each after three days, Vaishyar said. “Now, there is chilling cold there and they have no food too. I don’t know how our children and others are managing,” he said. PTI
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