New Delhi: The Central government on Tuesday said India is safe for minorities while the BJP virtually attacked the Archbishop of Delhi, saying no one should speak to mobilise people on the basis of religion. The remarks came after a letter from Archbishop Anil Joseph Couto talked about the “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country.
The Archbishop in his May 8 letter asked the priests and churches in Delhi to hold a year-long prayer campaign for the country to protect its democratic principles and secular fabric ahead of the 2019 general elections “when we will have new government”. “No one should speak to mobilise the people of the country on the basis of religion,” BJP President Amit Shah told reporters here.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India is safe for minorities and no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. “I have not seen the letter, but I want to say India is one of those countries in the world where no discrimination happens on the basis of caste, religion and faith, and nobody can be allowed to discriminate,” he told reporters.
While Minorities Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked the Archbishop to “shed his prejudiced mindset against the Modi government”, Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons said the views expressed in the letter were Archbishop’s personal opinion and that no other Bishop supported his views. “This is Archbishop’s personal opinion. The head of Catholic Bishops in India says that he supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This government has done more for the poor and minorities. No other Bishop has come in support of Delhi Archbishop,” Alphons told reporters.
Naqvi said minorities had made fast progress in the last four years of BJP government. In the controversial letter, the Archbishop said: “We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.” He said they should pray for the country and its political leaders.
“As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have new government let us begin a Prayer Campaign for our country,” he said in the letter and requested all to observe “a Day of Fast every Friday of the week by forgoing at least one meal” for “spiritual renewal” of self and the nation.
The letter also carried a “Prayer for our Nation” that asked for God’s blessings to uphold the values of equality, liberty and fraternity, and to protect the integrity of the judiciary, media and institutions from the “infiltration of the evil forces”. “This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom,” read one of the lines in the prayer.