Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Friday said that no one should be forced to chant any religious slogan such as “Jai Shri Ram”, reported NDTV.

“You should not force anyone to do anything,” the minister told the news channel in an interview. “But you can’t refuse to sing Vande Mataram. There should be no rigidity on either side.”

Naqvi said: “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.”

The minister’s statement comes at a time when incidents of people being assaulted for refusing to chant “Jai Shri Ram” have been reported from Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. In the most recent instance, a group of men allegedly attacked madrasa students in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh for not chanting “Jai Shri Ram”.

On June 18, a 24-year Muslim man was assaulted by a mob and forced to say “Jai Shri Ram” in Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district. He died four days later.

On lynching, Naqvi said there were sufficient laws to deal with such crimes. “Tell us one lynching incident in which the accused has not been caught,” he said. “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.” Naqvi also said there were no communal riots over the last five years.


When asked about the assault incident involving BJP legislator Akash Vijayvargiya, who attacked a municipal officer in Indore on June 26, and Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur’s remarks on Nathuram Godse, Naqvi said the BJP was a disciplined party that did not believe in gag orders. “But if anyone tries to misuse the liberty, the party will act against them,” he said.

Navi said the triple talaq bill was not politically motivated. “It will clear both Houses,” he said. The bill seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq – which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” three times in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication – a penal offence.