Two days after the deadly rampage in Panchkula and Sirsa by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, and the guilty will be punished without fail. The death toll in the clashes triggered by Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction of rape rose to 38 on Sunday evening.
“No one has the right to take the law into one’s own hands in the name of one’s beliefs,” the Prime Minister said in the 35th edition of his monthly radio address, Mann ki Baat, on Sunday. “In the Constitution given to us by Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar there is every provision for ensuring justice for each and every person. I want to assure my countrymen that people who take the law into their own hands and are on the path of violent suppression — whether it is a person or a group — neither this country nor any government will tolerate it. Each and every person will have to abide by the law; the law will fix accountability and the guilty will unquestionably be punished,” Modi said, according to the official translation of his address on the Mann ki Baat web site.
The Prime Minister referred to the current season of festivals — Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid-ul-Zuha, Onam and the Jain Samvatsari Parva — and said it was only natural to be concerned “when, on the one hand, a sense of festivity pervades the land, and on the other, news of violence comes in from one part of the country”.
India, he said, “is the country of Buddha and Gandhi, it is the land of Sardar Patel who gave up his all for the unity of the nation. For centuries, our forefathers have imbibed community values, non-violence, mutual respect — these are inherent to us. We have been hearing and saying Ahimsa Parmo Dharmah from our childhood”.
The PM recalled that in his Independence Day speech, he had said that “violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, whether it is communal belief systems, whether it is subscribing to political ideologies, whether it is allegiance to a person or customs and traditions”. His remarks on August 15 had come in the wake of violent cow vigilantism, which he had unequivocally condemned.
In his 31-minute address, Modi spoke at length on the rich diversity of Indian society, and lauded the contribution of a leading Muslim organisation in cleaning temples his home state Gujarat, which saw devastating floods recently.
“When the waters receded, there was so much filth everywhere. That is when, in Dhanera in the Banaskantha district of Gujarat, volunteers of Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind cleaned twenty-two affected temples and two mosques in a phased manner. They came together and toiled collectively. The volunteers of Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind set a fine, inspiring example of unity for cleanliness,” he said.
Thirty crore new families had been linked to the government’s financial inclusion scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and bank accounts had been opened for them, Modi said. “This number is larger than the population of many countries… Today I feel a great sense of fulfilment, that within three years, the last man on the fringes of society has become a part of the mainstream economy of the country. His ways have changed, he has now started going to the bank. He has started saving his money. He feels financially secure… When a poor person sees a RuPay card in his pocket, he finds himself to be equal to the privileged… He feels a sense of dignity.”
The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana completes three years on Monday.
Modi asked citizens to start a “Swachchata Hi Seva” (Cleanliness is Service) campaign at least 15-20 days ahead of Gandhi Jayanti on October 2, “on the lines of the age-old belief, Jal Seva Yahi Prabhu Seva, Service to Water is Service to God”.
He also gave the slogan of “Teach to Transform” while paying tributes to S Radhakrishnan ahead of Teacher’s Day on September 5.
Emphasising the need for outdoor games at a time when children are often glued to play stations instead of the playground, Modi announced that the Sports Ministry is launching a Sports Talent Search Portal to search for, and groom sporting talent. “Any talented child who has an achievement in sports, can upload his biodata or video on this portal,” he said.
The PM mentioned the FIFA Under-17 World Cup that will be held in India in October, and recalled his interaction with six young women from the Navy who will circumnavigate the globe in a small boat, INS Tarini.