Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said respect for all religions “must be in the DNA of all Indians” and his government would ensure there is complete freedom of faith in India.
“The government will not allow any religious group, belonging to majority or minority to incite hatred against others overtly or covertly,” PM Modi said at an event in Delhi to celebrate the sainthood of two Indians.
“My government gives equal respect to all religions, it must be in the DNA of all Indians. Everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence,” he added.
The prime minister’s strong remarks come after protests over a series of attacks on churches and religious conversions by pro-Hindu groups.
Critics and opposition parties have accused PM Modi of being quiet on provocative comments by groups and individuals linked to his party BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Since coming to power nine months ago, Mr Modi is believed to have privately cautioned his lawmakers and party men more than once against controversial statements that diverted attention from his agenda of economic reforms and development.
Breaking his silence today, PM Modi said his government would act strongly against religious violence. “Unity strengthens us. Division weakens us. I sincerely request all Indians and all of you present here to support me in this huge task.”
He commented that division and hostility on religious lines had become a matter of global concern. “The ancient Indian belief of mutual respect for all faiths was beginning to manifest in the global discourse,” said the prime minister.
Speaking earlier, Union minister Arun Jaitley called the recent church attacks “unacceptable aberrations.”