Rejecting the contention that intolerance is growing under NDA rule, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asserted in Lok Sabha that anyone trying to disturb harmony will not be spared as he expressed readiness to order CBI probe into incidents like Dadri and Kalburgi murders.
Replying to a debate on ‘intolerance’, he also appealed, once again, to the writers, artists and scientists, who have returned their awards, to take them back and expressed willingness to discuss their apprehensions and suggestions.
In his speech during which several opposition parties staged a walkout towards the end, Singh said the allegations that ‘intolerance’ is increasing under the Narendra Modi government is unfounded.
Projecting India as a place not fit for living will only hurt the country’s image and prevent foreign investment, he said.
“I want to assure this House, on behalf of myself and the Prime Minister, that if anyone tries to harm the social and religious harmony, he will not be spared,” he said.
“I appeal to all MPs and the people of this country to join hands in strengthening the spirit of tolerance,” he said.
To questions by the opposition as to why Narendra Modi had not spoken on the untoward incidents, Singh countered by asking whether any of the previous Prime Ministers had ever commented on such incidents in the past.
The Home Minister said internal security is his responsibility and he had always spoken on such incidents.
Responding point-by-point to issues raised by the opposition during the debate, Singh said the Centre is still ready for a CBI probe into the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri even though the Uttar Pradesh government has not yet recommended it so far.
Similarly, he said, if the Karnataka government wants a CBI probe into the murder of writer M M Kalburgi, the Centre was ready to order it. He noted that the case was at present being investigated by the Karnataka CID.
Contending that “manufactured allegations” are being
levelled against the government on intolerance, the Home Minister said, “The doors of this government are open for any discussion over tolerance or intolerance with those who have misgivings about our functioning… Even if I am called, I am ready to engage in a dialogue.”
He added, “If our government is at all intolerant, we are intolerant towards corruption, terrorism, filth, poverty and atrocities against the poor, the girls and women.”
Hitting out at critics, Singh said, “If any party is the victim of intolerance, it is the BJP. If any one is the worst victim of intolerance it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
He said among the 39 persons who had returned their awards, a few had made a statement before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls that a person like Modi cannot and should not lead the country. “This is called intolerance”, Singh said.
“One of them even said that Modi is a fascist,” he said adding people should respect the verdict of the people then only they would be called tolerant.
Referring to the walkout of the opposition parties including Congress, TMC and Left parties, he said they do not have the “tolerance” to listen to his response to their views even when he patiently heard each and every speaker.
“We were tolerant, we are tolerant and we will continue to remain tolerant. No one can take that away. It will continue,” he said.
Referring to the Dadri lynching, the Home Minister said
the report Home Ministry had received from the UP government had made no mention of the incident being linked to beef or whether it was a pre-meditated murder.
Singh said he felt that the state government had not been able to reach any conclusion and he had been waiting for it to recommend a CBI probe but such a request was never made.
While rejecting the allegation of atrocities against minorities, Singh described how different sects of Islam are being targeted in Muslim countries. This invited sharp response from opposition benches who wanted him to instead speak on the incidents raised by them.
“We have raised certain questions, spoken about incidents in 2015 and what your ministers and MPs are doing. You should answer them. But you are talking about Saudi Arbaia, the US…,” Mallikarjun Kharge (Cong) said. His party soon staged a walk-out.
He said a section of people was trying to defy the peoples’ mandate which voted the Modi government in the power, and said “this is intolerance”.
Targeting Congress, Singh said the three biggest examples of intolerance in the country are – partition of India, Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and 1984 anti-Sikhs riots.
“Everybody knows who was in power at that time. Where were these people when innocent sikhs were massacred in Delhi? Where was intolerance when there were riots in Meerut, Nelli, Bhagalpur,” he added.
Singh also asked who was ruling West Bengal when Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen was attacked and chased out from Kolkata.
Citing various newspaper reports including an article in Saudi Gazette, he said India is an example of tolerant society. “I want to say that the highest level of tolerance is in India only,” he said.
Referring to the controversy of alleged statement of Union Minister V K Singh, the Home Minister said he has already spoken to him (V K Singh) and he told him that his statmenet was “twisted”.
He had also made a statement asking his colleagues to speak with caution, he said.
“Now making such hue and cry over it is not doing justice to either country or the country. The nation will decide who is intolerant and who is intolerant,” he said.