Delhi, Modi enroute to religious freedom?

Written by: Sarath

After remaining mum on various ill-timed 'Hindutva comments', Sangh Parivar's ghar wapsi campaign and attacks on churches in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Feb 17 broke his silence and aired his views on religious freedom and tolerance.

He was speaking at a function organised at Vigyan Bhawan to celebrate the elevation of two beatified members of the church to sainthood.

Narendra Modi

The message was clear and directly pointed at religious bigots that the government won't entertain or tolerate such comments again.

There were wide spread reaction that Modi did little to assuage the feeling of fear of the minority community.

"Fanaticism will not be tolerated and my government will give equal respect to all religions and will not allow any form of violence against any religion," Modi said.

He also added that his government would stand by individual's right to freedom of faith.

"We consider the freedom to have, to retain, and to adopt, a religion or belief, is a personal choice of a citizen. India is the land of the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi and equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian," Modi said.

Modi's speech comes after attacks on Christian establishments including attack on The Holy Child Auxilium School. It was the sixth attack on Christian establishments in the city in last three months.

Christian religious leaders also reacted to the speech and told that educational institutes run by them didn't entertain conversion. They also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make the community feel safe in their own country.

But the more pertinent question is why it take Prime Minister Modi this while to comment on attack religious on minority establishments. Was he waiting to Delhi election to get over, or was it a realisation that his inaction caused the party dear.

After Delhi election, the country saw a series of pro-minority action from Modi and BJP:

  • Modi condemned the attack on community-run school and the HRD Minister Smriti Irani visited the school.
  • Though the Delhi Police are under the Union Home Ministry, Prime Minister himself summoned Delhi Commissioner to take stock of the attacks on Christian establishments.
  • And the recent speech on religious freedom.

And there were also comments from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj who suggested that every Hindu woman should bear four children.

He slammed Sakshi Maharaj and said that our mothers are not baby factories. "Hamaari maatayen factory nahin hain, bachcha paida karna vyaktigat nirnay hai."

So from former RSS pracharak Narendra Modi's speech and Mohan Bhagwats comment, there seems to be a 'paradigm shift' in the way Modi, BJP and other right-wing groups sees the developments in Delhi.

And if one reads these developments just one week after Delhi debacle, there is more dimensions to PM's reach out to religious minorities.

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