London :Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday faced questions on intolerance in India in recent months and 2002 riots in Gujarat, drawing an assurance from him that intolerance would not be accepted in any part of India. At a media interaction here after talks with his British counterpart David Cameron, a BBC reporter referred to recent incidents of intolerance and asked why India was becoming an increasingly intolerance place. Modi replied that India is a land of Buddha and Gandhi and its culture does not accept anything that is against the basic social values. “India does not accept intolerance even if it is one or two or three incidents. But for a country of 125 crore people whether it is significant or not, it does not matter. For us every incident is serious. We do not tolerate it.
“Law takes strong action and will continue to do so. India is a vibrant democracy which under Constitution provides protection all citizens, their lives and thoughts. We are committed to it,” said the Prime Minister.
A journalist from The Guardian newspaper later asked Cameron who was standing by Modi as to how comfortable he was feeling receiving Modi into the country given the fact that during his (Cameron’s) first tenure, Modi was not permitted to visit UK because of his record as Gujarat Chief Minister. The reporter also asked Modi about protests during the day on the streets of London saying he did not deserve the respect that would normally be accorded to the leader of the world’s largest democracy given his record as Gujarat Chief Minister.
Cameron said “I am pleased to welcome Modi. He comes here with an enoromous and historic mandate. As far as the other issue is concern, there were legal proceedings. Earlier today, he was received by the British government and I discussed with him how the two countries can work together.” On his part, Modi said about the “other issue” raised by the questioner, “I want to set the record straight.” “In 2003 when I came here I got an enthusiastic reception then also. The UK had never barred me from coming here. There was no bar. It is a wrong perception. I want to set it right.”
While the US administration had denied visa to Modi after the 2002 riots, the British Government was cold to him for long. But before the 2014 elections, the British High Commissioner visited Gandhi Nagar and met Modi, in a signal that London was warming up to him as media had already projected that Modi was on the rise.
India has been rocked by controversy over incidents of intolerance ever since a man was lynched in Dadri on suspicions of having eaten beef.