Drawing on ancient Indian tradition of mutual respect for all faiths, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government would ensure “complete” freedom of faith for all to have an “undeniable” right to practise any religion without “coercion”.
Addressing a gathering of Christian leaders here, Modi said: “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith. Everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.”
“The government will not allow any religious group, belonging to majority or minority, to incite hatred against others overtly or covertly,” he assured the leaders at the national celebration of the elevation to sainthood of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Euphrasia.
The assurance assumes a greater significance in the wake of a series of attacks on churches and a school in Delhi over a period of two months.
Sixth in a row, Holy Child Auxilium school in south Delhi was ransacked by an unidentified group Feb 13, triggering a strong reaction from Modi who summoned Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi to speed up investigations in the recent incidents of vandalism and ensure that the guilty were punished.
Taking strong notice of the attacks, Christian leaders claimed that their community was being subjected to intentional attacks which were attempts to instil fear among them.
In a bid to reach out to the community, Modi sought the support of all, including the leaders present on the occasion, to maintain unity that “strengthens” while stressing that any division along communal lines would “weaken us”.
Lauding the two saints for dedicating their lives to the service of God and fellow beings, Modi described the lives and deeds of Saint Chavara and Saint Euphresia as “inspiration” to humanity.