Modi warns of firm action against religious attacks

NEW DELHI: Breaking his long silence over hate speeches by sections of the Sangh Parivar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his Government would not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or minority group, to incite hatred against others.

He also promised to initiate firm action against the perpetrators of religious attacks and warned against efforts to incite hatred against minorities. “We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard,” he said.

Mr. Modi’s unequivocal statement is seen as a response to all-round criticism over a series of hate speeches delivered by BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, Minister Jyothi Niranjan besides the `ghar wapasi’ programme undertaken by sections of the Sangh parivar for re-conversion of Muslims and Christians.

The Prime Minister had drawn heavy flak in the last session of Parliament for not equivocally condemning these acts. No sooner than this controversy subsided that there were a string of attacks on churches in the national capital itself.

The latest was an incident of vandalism committed on Christian school at Vasant Vihar following which Mr. Modi summoned Delhi Police Commissioner B. S. Bassi and asked him to bring took culprits behind the half-a-dozen attacks on schools and churches. “I appeal to all religious groups to act with restraint, mutual respect, and tolerance,” the PM said at an event held in New Delhi on Tuesday to celebrate the beatification of two Indians Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Euphrasia by Pope Francis late last year.

PM hails India’s tradition of plurality

Mr. Modi said the tradition of  welcoming, respecting and honouring all faiths was old as India itself and quoted Swami Vivekananda as saying, “we believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true”.

“What Swami Vivekananda had said a century ago holds good and will, for ever, not only for this nation but also for this government or for that matter any government  run by any political party. This principle of equal respect and treatment for all faiths has been a part of India’s ethos for thousands of years. And that is how it became integral to the Constitution of India”.

In an apparent reference to the controversy over the ‘ghar wapasi’ programme’, the Prime Minister said “we consider the freedom to have, to retain, and to adopt, a religion or belief, is a personal choice of a citizen… Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions.

“Equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian. We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard”, Mr. Modi said.

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