Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday rejected allegations of rising intolerance in the country, claiming that India is the most tolerant country in the world, PTI reported. Singh’s statement came days after a session by actor Naseeruddin Shah at the Ajmer Literature Festival was cancelled, due to protests by Hindutva groups over his remarks that he was worried about mob violence in India.
“The tolerance that exists in India, I don’t think that it can be found in any corner of the world,” Singh said at an event in Lucknow. “India is the only country in the world where people from various prominent religions co-exist peacefully...They have contributed in making India empowered, self-reliant and prosperous and will continue to do so.”
Singh further said: “There are 72 sects in Islam, all of them are found here, not even the Islamic countries have all. There’s no question of intolerance in the country.”
In an interview last week with Karwan-e-Mohabbat, a civil society initiative that aims to foster harmony between religious groups, Shah said the death of a cow is given more importance than that of a police officer in today’s India. The remark was made with reference to the violence in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh on December 3, in which a police inspector was killed following the discovery of cattle carcasses in a field.
“The poison has already spread,” Shah had said. “There is complete impunity for those who take the law into their own hands. In many regions we are witnessing that the death of a cow has more significance than that of a police officer.”
The actor had said that he feels anxious for his children in present-day India, and that he is not scared, but angry. “And I feel that every right-thinking person should feel angry, not scared,” he added. “This [India] is our home. Who can dare to evict us from here?”
Shah later defended his remarks and said he had made them as a concerned Indian citizen.
His comment had triggered outrage from Hindutva groups. On Friday, organisers of the Ajmer Literature Festival in the state cancelled a session by Shah after protests against him at the venue.