India's composite culture
under attack from sectarianism: PM
Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday
said the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today was the
assault on India's composite culture and appealed to the political
leadership to preserve the pluralistic framework of the country.
the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today is the assault
on our composite culture," Singh said in his opening
remarks at the National Integration Council (NIC) here.
who threaten our communal harmony, integrity and peaceful
coexistence deserve very deterrent punishment. We should not
be provoked to suspend or subvert a democratic process in
the search for solutions," he said.
the recent past, we are witnessing signs of increasing fissiparous
tendencies specially in areas like the northeast, in Jammu
and Kashmir, in Orissa and Karnataka, in Assam and some other
parts of our country.
the situation is aggravated by external interests that wish
to derail the essential unity of India. Further, as witnessed
recently in Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Assam, we see
ethnicity and religion being used as arguments to stir divisions."
continues to erupt sporadically in Orissa after the killing
of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati
in August led to right wing Hindu groups targeting Christians,
leaving over 35 dead. Many have blamed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad
and the Bajrang Dal for the violence.
clashes in Assam last week claimed 55 lives.
chief characteristic of our civilisation has been unity in
diversity. We have never attempted to impose uniformity or
dilute diversity," Singh said.
need to meet today's mindless violence with the requisite
amount of force, but must also ensure that this is tempered
by reason and justice which is the normal order of governance."
underlined that ethnic and religious communities had lived
together peacefully during the past millennium in India.
today, we see fault-lines developing between, and among, communities.
Recent tragic events in Orissa, Karnataka and Assam have pained
all right-thinking persons. There are clashes between Hindus,
Christians, Muslims and tribal groups," said Singh.
atmosphere of hatred and violence is being artificially generated.
There are forces deliberately encouraging such tendencies
and also spawning militant outfits who engage in irrational
violence. These need to be firmly dealt with."
Singh said that attempts to divide communities and foster
hatred must be thwarted by state governments to protect democratic
is no politics that has right to assert over the rights of
the common man or the integrity of our nation. The responsibility
of the political leadership is to preserve and promote this
pluralistic and democratic framework."
would like to appeal to all political parties to bear in mind
this fundamental political responsibility that enjoins on
each one of us to ensure that we not only preserve but promote
the unique confluence of cultures that India has become for
the past centuries.
Minister Singh also pointed out that the need of the hour
was reconciliation as this phase of violence was futile especially
for those caught up in the vortex of today's conflicts.
am stressing this point since violence seems to be permeating
society today, across the length and breadth of our country
- whether it be terrorist violence, whether it is violence
with an ideological veneer such as that adopted by the left
wing extremists or communal violence."
to all chief ministers and other special invitees at the NIC
that is being held after a gap of three years, the prime minister
said all must collectively consider whether short-term narrow
political ends were driving "some of us to encourage
forces of divisiveness" that are today threatening the
unity of our people.
is a time, therefore, that calls upon each one of us to collectively
reassert our identity as a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious
and multi-linguistic country, whose constitution respects
and upholds the freedom of all religions. We must thwart all
efforts to create divisiveness in our polity to further sectarian
interests," he said.
said: "We need to isolate and fight those who promote
divisiveness. The common citizen of this country is not bigoted
but generous and compassionate and nurtured in a tradition
of tolerance intrinsic to all faiths that nourish our composite
cultures. Let us collectively endeavour to preserve these
values which the people of our country cherish."