Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath slammed those returning awards saying that they were only dishonouring the nation.
With filmmakers, scientists, artists and authors returned their honours in protest against growing intolerance and violence in the country, Rajnath said in an interview to India Today that their action reeked of a devious political conspiracy.
The BJP leader added that any award with the Ashoka emblem on it was a national honour and to return it was not disrespecting the present government but dishonouring the nation.
On Dadri and Karnataka incidents, the Home Minister pointed out that he could not intervene in law and order problems in the states.
At the same time the Home Minister that even if BJP's opponents want to blame someone, they should be targeting him and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the other hand, Union Minister Arun Jaitley today stepped up attack on those returning awards by calling them "rabid anti-BJP elements" and stuck to his guns that their protest is a manufactured rebellion.
"Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. Follow their tweets and their stances on various social and political issues. You will find a lot of rabid anti-BJP elements in them," Jaitley, who holds charge of Finance and Information and Broadcasting Ministries, told reporters, as per PTI.
"I had already called it a manufactured rebellion. I stand by my phrase. And I think, the events as they are unfolding only indicate that kind of manufacturing is going on at faster speed," the Minister said here while replying to a question on the returning of awards by writers, film-makers and scientists.
On the other hand, historians today joined writers, filmmakers and scientists in growing protests against "climate of intolerance" over which top scientist PM Bhargava said he will return his Padma Bhushan award, alleging Modi government was trying to make India into a "Hindu religious autocracy".
As a second group of scientists joined the wave of protests by the intelligentsia, 53 historians including Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, KN Pannikar and Mridula Mukherjee hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not making any "reassuring statement" following concerns over "highly vitiated atmosphere" prevailing in the country.
Bhargava, who founded the prestigious Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, said he will return the award conferred on him in 1986 because he felt the climate in the country was of "very strong fear" and it was "against rationality, against reason and against scientific temper".
(With PTI inputs)