New Delhi: Rejecting allegations that she had endorsed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s view that all Indians are Hindus and their cultural identity is Hindutva, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah on Friday issued clarification saying it was a ‘mistake by the reporter’ on her usage of the term ‘Hindu’ in an interview to a newspaper.
Heptullah said, “I had used the word ‘Hindi’, I did not use the word ‘Hindu’. Hindi is an Arabic word. We call all Indians Hindi. I have said it outside the Parliament also when the controversy had just started. Hindi is an Arabic word. People who go from India to the Gulf countries are known as Hindi. If you go to Iran, they are known as Hindustani. It is a national Identity. The boy had written by mistake. I always said Hindi and we are all Indians. I still stand by it.”
Reacting to this controversy, Imam Umar Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam, All India Imam Organisation said that it was not wrong to identify the people of the region with the name of their land.
“I believe that Hindustani, Bharatiya, Indians are all Indians. When we visit Mecca and Madina, we are called Hindustani Muslims. I don’t find anything wrong in that. If people of Pakistan can be called Pakistanis, people of America are known as Americans then why is it wrong to call the people of Hindustan as Hindustanis?” he asked
“We should all understand that we are all one. We should behave in a responsible way so that there is no confusion or controversy. We should work for the progress of the country”, said Imam Umar Ahmed Ilyasi.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said that Article 1 of Constitution talks of India as Bharat, therefore Indians are ‘Bharatiyas’ not Hindus.
Earlier Tewari had lambasted Bhagwat, saying he would be well-advised to read the Constitution which very specifically states that India is Bharat, a union of state, and the word ” Hindustan” is nowhere mentioned.
Heptullah had generated a similar controversy in May when she said that Muslims were not minorities.