A day after a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court acquitted all accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case in Hyderabad, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi and former ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and P Chidambaram for allegedly using the term “saffron terror”.

Addressing a press conference in the national capital on Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that Rahul Gandhi and Chidambaram should address a joint press conference and answer all questions raised by BJP on their “anti-Hindu” remarks.

Citing a 2009 telegram, exchanged allegedly between then US Ambassador to India Tim Roemer and US State Department, Patra said that Rahul Gandhi had told the US envoy that “there was some support for the LeT in certain elements in India’s Muslim community, but the bigger threat maybe of the rise of radical home grown Hindu groups which create tension”.

“We have the full telegram sent in 2009 by the then US Ambassador Tim Roemer to the US State Dept. On the first page is written ‘reaching out to Rahul Gandhi and other young parliamentarians’, he added.

In a sharp attack on the Gandhi scion, Patra said that “Rahul Gandhi feels helpless Hindus are terrorists”. He added, “Don’t take Hindus for granted. We (BJP) have always believed in justice for all and appeasement for none. Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have to apologise before the country.”

A video was also shown to mediapersons during the press conference wherein Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Chidambaram could be seen using terms “Hindu terror” or “saffron terror”.

The Congress had on Monday claimed that party chief Rahul Gandhi or the party itself never used the term “saffron terror”. The Congress asserted that it was of firm belief that terror could not be linked to any religion or community.

Congress spokesperson PL Punia said terrorism is a criminal mentality and it cannot be linked to any religion or community. “Rahul Gandhi or the Congress party has never used the words ‘saffron terror’,” he told reporters when asked about the BJP’s allegations.