Days after Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that those who eat beef should go to Pakistan, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said his colleague’s statements were “unpalatable”.
AUDIO – (Skip to 35 minutes for minister’s comments on eating beef)
“I eat beef, I’m from Arunachal Pradesh, can somebody stop me? So let us not be touchy about somebody’s practices,” Rijiju said during a visit to Aizawl on Tuesday. “This is a democratic country. Sometimes, some statements are made which are not palatable.”
“If a Mizo Christian says that this is the land of Jesus, why should someone have a problem in Punjab or Haryana? We have to honour the sentiments of each place and each location,” he said.
“If Maharashtra is Hindu majority, or if Gujarat is Hindu majority, Madhya Pradesh is Hindu majority, if they are to make laws which are conducive to the Hindu faith, let them be. But in our place, in our state where we are majority, where we feel whatever steps we take, you know, laws which are conducive to our beliefs, it should be. So they also should not have a problem with the way we live, and we also should not have a problem with the way they live,” he added.
“This country is a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-communal country. We must respect each other’s practices. There cannot be any force on anybody about your practices, your faith. So if anybody makes a statement which is forcing or imposing your belief, your faith, your practices on another community, another believer, it is not good,” Rijiju said.
Rijiju also spoke on the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh to some North-Eastern states.
“I am not going to make a political point here but since it has been happening for a long time, it is a problem, a challenge for us. It’s an issue for us and we are giving a lot of emphasis to deal with that,” Rijiju said. “But I think that with the land boundary agreement, Bangladesh will come close to us in understanding and ensuring that our border forces and their forces, both sides must cooperate.”
“People who flee their homeland are broadly put in two categories, One is they come out deliberately to disturb people of other regions by taking away their jobs, by way of involvement in criminal activities. Illegal migration, this is a menace,” he said.
“Then the other group are refugees who are religiously persecuted, who are forced out. There is a humanitarian angle. If we are forced out of our homeland, it is a human issue,” the MoS said in response to a question about migration of Chakmas, a community from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, to parts of Mizoram, Tripura, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
“For me, for the government, religious background is not a consideration. It is basically under what circumstances they have been either driven out or they have deliberately come over. So we have to categorise on that part. Having said that, if they are not our citizens, our efforts will always be to push them back into their country,” Rijiju said.