Nobody Should Be Forced To Chant “Jai Shri Ram”, Says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

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Secularism is in the DNA of the majority community, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said

New Delhi:

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union Minister of Minority Affairs, has said that there are sufficient laws to deal with crimes like lynching. He also told NDTV in an exclusive interview that nobody should be forced to chant "Jai Shri Ram".

Mr Naqvi's comment was seen as significant in the backdrop of a Jharkhand government report today that said lapses by police and doctors killed a 24-year-old Muslim man, Tabrez Ansari, who was tied to a pole, thrashed and forced to shout "Jai Shri Ram" and "Jai Hanuman" by a mob last month.

"Tell us one lynching incident in which the accused has not been caught. In Rajasthan, the accused did not get bail for six months. In Uttar Pradesh, the accused was found in four hours. Whatever be the incident, there has been instant action," Mr Naqvi said.

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On the politics over "Jai Shri Ram" and attacks on those who refuse to chant it, the Minority Affairs minister said no one should be forced into anything.

"You should not force anyone to do anything. But you can't refuse to sing Vande Mataram. There should be no rigidity on either side," said the minister.

"If you go to any village, each person says 'Ram Ram', be it Hindu or Muslim. The country is secular not because of its minorities, but it is in the DNA of the majority community," Mr Naqvi asserted.

Asked about recent controversies involving BJP legislators like Akash Vijavargiya, who attacked an official with a cricket bat, and Bhopal lawmaker Pragya Thakur, who called Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse a "deshbhakt" or patriot, Mr Naqvi said: "The BJP is a disciplined party that doesn't believe in gag orders. But if anyone tries to misuse the liberty, the party will act against them."

He further said that divisive forces must not be allowed to stop progress.

"We are taking the country on the path of progress, we will have to stop the forces that try to stop this progress, that try to become a speed-breaker in the path of progress. Our inclusive thinking will stop such forces," he added.

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