Weeks after Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister, a techie was brutally murdered in Pune by members of an extremist Hindu organisation. Sporadic incidences of hate speech by leaders of the Sangh Parivar and a series of attacks on churches in Delhi soon followed. Campaigns like ghar wapsi and love jihad, perceived by many as communal, gathered steam.
For a long time, however, the Prime Minister remained silent, prompting the New York Times to ask, “What will it take for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out about the mounting violence against India’s religious minorities?”
In February this year, the PM broke his silence and said his government was committed to protect the right of every individual to adopt and retain the religion of his choice. Since then, he has spoken a number of times on protecting the rights of minority communities, with the latest one being on Tuesday, when he told Muslim leaders that he doesn’t believe in politics that divide people on communal lines.
Here’s a look back at the five assurances that Modi has given to the minority communities till now:
On church attacks and ghar wapsi
Speaking at a gathering of the Christian community in Delhi in February, Modi said, “My government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.”
He spoke in the backdrop of the ghar wapsi campaign, an aggressive programme by Hindu groups to convert non-Hindus to Hinduism, and the attacks on different churches in the national capital.
“My government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence,” Modi said.
He added: “My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions.”
On the gangrape of a 71-year-old nun in West Bengal
In March, a 71-year-old nun was gangraped at a missionary-run school in the Nadia district of West Bengal. Around the same time, a half-built church was vandalised in Hisar, Haryana.
Modi criticised both incidents and expressed deep concern over the rape and church attack, seeking an immediate report.
“PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the prime minister's office had tweeted.
"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana & West Bengal."
On hate-speech and religious freedom
In a recent interview with news agency UNI, Modi called anti-minority comments by some leaders “unfortunate” and “uncalled for”. He said any discrimination or violence against any community wouldn’t be tolerated.
“Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom to every citizen and that is not negotiable. I have said this before and I say it again: any discrimination or violence against any community will not be tolerated,'' Modi said.
Critics have said this was one of his strongest reactions yet to growing incidences of violence and discrimination against minorities.
Reaching out to Muslim leaders
On Tuesday, Modi spoke to a delegation of Muslim leaders and told that he would be available even at midnight to address the concerns of the minority community.
Modi discussed social, economic and educational issues related to Muslims with the 30-member delegation led by Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the All India Imam Organisation.
On inclusivity and terrorism
In an exclusive interview to Time magazine Modi stressed on inclusive growth.
He said, “Take everybody together and move toward inclusive growth. Wherever a [negative] view might have been expressed [about] a minority religion, we have immediately negated that. So far as the government is concerned, there is ­only one holy book, which is the constitution of India.”
All religious communities in India have same rights, he said.
“The unity and the integrity of the country are the topmost priorities. All religions and all communities have the same rights, and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.”
If you knock at midnight, I will respond: PM Modi to Muslim leaders