BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's 'Hindu nationalism' remark stirred a debate earlier this year but the Kashmir high court in its judgement has ruled that "no person can claim himself to be a 'Hindu nationalist'.
"In our constitutional scheme, a citizen of India is only an Indian. No person can claim himself to be a 'Hindu nationalist', 'Muslim nationalist', 'Sikh nationalist', 'Buddhist nationalist' or 'Christian nationalist'," observed high court judge justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar in his judgement pronounced on Thursday.
"The constitutional provisions is loud and clear (about it) and in unambiguous terms forbid using of such expression," he added.
Attar's observation came while hearing a petition filed by Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), a body of Kashmiri Pandits who stayed back in the valley in the face of armed rebellion in 1990s.
Tickoo had moved a petition on safeguarding the Hindu temples in the valley saying "'secular' character of the Constitution would require the state and its authorities to protect the religious places."
"Some 'Mahants', who in some case are non-Kashmiri pundits, have illegally and unauthorisedly created third party interest in properties, which are now being used for commercial purposes. Action, in accordance with law, has to be taken for dealing with 'Mahants', who illegally disposed of properties and religious places have to be protected," said the petition.
The judge has directed the chief secretary "to take all required steps in accordance with law for protection of religious places of Hindus."
"All the constitutional authorities may take all other steps, in accordance with the Constitution of India and Constitution of J&K and laws of the land, for protecting the religious places of petitioners, including the places of cultural heritage.
Earlier this year, Modi described himself as a 'Hindu nationalist' because he was a born Hindu. "I am nationalist. I'm patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I am born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So I'm a Hindu nationalist," he said in Gujarat in July this year. His remarks ruffled many a feathers.
"A person, who persists in use of such expression/s and in fact, believes in such a thought has to be dealt with and proceeded against in accordance with the mandate contained in the constitution and other laws of the land," the judgment said.