NEW DELHI:Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday finally broke his silence following the attacks on churches here and declared that the government won’t allow any religious group to incite hatred against others overtly or covertly.
Amidst the raging controversy over the attacks, Modi assured that his government will be one that gives equal respect to all religions.
Participating in the function to celebrate the elevation to sainthood of two saints of Kerala — Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Euphrasia — at Vigyan Bhavan here, he said, “My government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.”
Maintaining that equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian and invoking Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said, “We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.”
Modi’s speech highlighting India’s syncretic tradition comes at a time when concerns were raised from various quarters, including US President Barack Obama, who recently remarked that “acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji”.
“The world is at the crossroads which, if not crossed properly, can throw us back to the dark days of bigotry, fanaticism and bloodshed. This harmonious convergence among religions could not be achieved even when the world entered the third millennium. And now it has been. This shows that the rest of the world too is evolving along the lines of ancient India,” Modi told the gathering also attended by Cardinal George Alencherry, Archbishop Andrew Thazhath, Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, Archbishop Anil Couto, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla and RS Deputy Chairman P J Kurien.
The Prime Minister appealed to all religious groups to act with restraint, mutual respect, and tolerance in the true spirit of the ancient nation, which is manifest in the Constitution and is in line with the Hague Declaration.
Referring to his development mantra of sabka saath, sabka vikas, Modi said, “In simple terms, it means food on every table, every child in school, a job for everybody and a house with toilet and electricity for every family. This will make India proud.”
Later, supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, called on the Prime Minister. He was accompanied by a nine-member delegation comprising members of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church.