With questions being raised about the government’s silence on the attacks on Muslims, even lynching in the name of cow protection, BJP Minority Morcha president Abdul Rasheed Ansari Monday said he and his party were “concerned” over the attacks against minorities and they should be made to feel that “the government cares for them”.
“The community should be given an atmosphere where they feel safe and secure and that the government cares for them,” Ansari told The Indian Express on the sidelines of Eid celebrations hosted by senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain.
His remarks came on the day when a village in Ballabhgarh, home to 15-year-old Junaid Khan who was stabbed to death after being called a beef-eater while returning from Eid shopping in Delhi on June 22, wore black bands to protest the killing.
Asked about the silence of the BJP on the incidents, Ansari, who had joined the Bharatiya Jana Sangh ranks and became president of the Minority Morcha four years ago, said: “I am concerned not just as a community member, but as a citizen of India, and as a member of a political party. My party is equally concerned about the incidents.”
“No one can doubt the niyat (intention) of BJP leaders and party-led governments,” he said, adding that the lynching incident on the train could not be termed a “failure of the government”.
“One could say the police and the security personnel should have been able to prevent such incidents. Fingers can be raised about their inability to control them. But three or four security personnel or police personnel cannot do anything against a mob of hundreds. It is true that they could have alerted others,” he said.
According to Ansari, the Prime Minister’s statement slamming gau rakshaks for outrageous incidents like the flogging of Dalits in Gujarat last year was a message against all such incidents. Last August, the Prime Minister spoke out against violence by cow vigilantes, saying most of them were “anti-social” elements running “shops” in the name of cow protection.
“It was a voice from his heart. Because Dalits and minorities have been victims. On a bigger canvas, all the downtrodden were included,” Ansari said. “Prime Minister cannot make a statement on every issue,” he said.
Even at the BJP national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar this April, the Prime Minister, Ansari said, had spoken about the “need for caring of minorities”.
Told that Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, citing the “current communal atmosphere”, had cancelled its Eid Milan event scheduled for June 30, he said: “It is their decision. According to them, this was a way to react.”
He declined to comment on central ministers staying away from the Iftar party hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan last week. “I do not know how many were invited. Naturally, ministers might have been invited. But only those who were invited could say why they did not go.”
Ansari said he had raised the concerns of the minorities with the party leadership, including BJP chief Amit Shah and the Prime Minister, on various occasions and they “listened to me patiently”.