In an address ahead of Independence Day, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday criticised attacks on “weaker sections” of society and said that such acts of violence should not be tolerated. His comments came after a number of recent attacks on Dalits. Mukherjee also warned against “unmindful pursuit” of divisive political agendas, and polarising debates by groups, saying they lead to institutional travesty and constitutional subversion.

Regarding India’s foreign policy, Mukherjee said, “There will be no stepping back on our “neighbourhood first policy” at a time when the country is seeing a rise in tension with Pakistan. He added that India’s focus in foreign policy remains on “peaceful co-existence and harnessing technology and resources for its economic development”.

The president also addressed the growing number of terrorist attacks across the world, and said, “These forces pose a danger to entire comity of nations; world will have to fight them unconditionally and in one voice.” He also lauded the recent passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill in Parliament, and said its introduction amid “non-partisan and quality parliamentary deliberations is reason enough to celebrate our democratic maturity”.