NEW DELHI: Breaking his silence on the violence perpetrated by Dera followers in Haryana and adjoining states following the conviction of the sect’s chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday asserted that no one has the right to take the law into one’s one hands in the name of one’s beliefs.
Invoking Buddha and Gandhi, Modi said, “It (India) is the land of Sardar Patel who gave up his all for the unity of the nation. For centuries, our forefathers have imbibed community values, nonviolence, mutual respect — these are inherent to us. We have been hearing and saying Ahimsa Parmo Dharmah from our childhood,” the PM said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
“In my address at the Red Fort, I had said violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, whether it is communal belief systems, whether it is subscribing to political ideologies, whether it is allegiance to a person or customs and traditions,” he said recalling his Independence Day speech.
He also said India is a land of diversities which are not limited to cuisine, lifestyle and attire but in every walk of life. “Even our festivals are replete with diversity,” he said. “When on one hand, a sense of festivity pervades the land, on the other, news of violence comes in from one part of the country. It is only natural to feel concerned,” Modi said.
Though the PM did not take names, it was evident that he was referring to the violence by the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Haryana after the godman’s conviction in a rape case Friday.
Soon after Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction, his followers went on a rampage in Panchkula and Sirsa districts of Haryana and other parts of the state leading to the death of 39 people and damage to government and private property worth crores of rupees. A Panchkula court convicted Ram Rahim Singh of rape in a 2002 case and the quantum of punishment will be pronounced Monday.
During Modi’s 30-minute radio programme, he also talked about festivals like ‘Samvatsari’, celebrated by the Jain community Saturday, as well as Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam, Navaratri in Gujarat, Durga puja in Bengal and upcoming Eid-ul-Zuha to buttress the message of love and forgiveness. “The festival of Samvatsari is symbolic of forgiveness, non-violence and brotherhood,” Modi said.
On Ganesh Chaturthi, he said the mega festival stands for unity, equality, integrity and honesty. Onam, which is mainly celebrated in Kerala, showcases the rich cultural heritage of the state and gives the message of love and harmony, awakens new hopes and aspirations, and gives new confidence to people. Festivals like Navaratri in Gujarat and Durga puja in Bengal are tremendous tourist attractions, he said. “In this series of festivals, Eid-ul-Zuha will be celebrated in a few days from now. Heartiest felicitations and best wishes to all countrymen on the occasion of Eid-ul-Zuha,” he said, adding that the festivals in ‘New India’ should be transformed into symbols of cleanliness.