Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said atrocities against minorities and Dalits are on the rise in India and that divisive policies and politics should be avoided, PTI reported. He said if such incidents are unchecked, they could harm the country’s democracy.

“I need not dwell long on the current deep concern that attempts are being made to divide the Indian people on the basis of religion and caste, language and culture,” Singh said at the Punjab University, his alma matter. The Congress leader said there was a “dangerous and false binary” to choose between freedom and development in the country’s political discourse. He asserted that freedom of a country did not mean just the freedom of its government.

Singh said: “Freedom is, the freedom to question, the freedom to express one’s views, howsoever troubling they may be for others. The only constraint to freedom must be the freedom of others. In other words, the freedom of one person or a group should not be used to constrain the freedom of other individuals or groups.”

He also laid stress on the need to contain growing economic inequality. “While economic growth remains a high priority for the country, there is now a growing concern that the commitment to ensure that disparities and inequality do not grow is weakening,” he said.