Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday the government will take strongest possible action against those who try to disrupt communal harmony in the country.
“Be it the state government or the central government, strongest possible action will be taken against those who try to break communal harmony in the country,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi.
The home minister was replying to a question about the tension in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri area where 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq was dragged out of his home on the outskirts of Delhi by a mob and beaten to death amid rumours that he had slaughtered a calf.
On Tuesday, Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley spoke out on Ikhlaq’s killing but stopped short of condemning it, as they voiced concern over the attack that has sparked outrage across the nation.
“It was an unfortunate incident. I appeal to every citizen to maintain communal harmony, which is everyone’s responsibility,” Singh had said on the sidelines of the 80th birth anniversary celebrations of farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait in the Capital.
His remarks that threats to the country’s secular fabric would not be tolerated came against the backdrop of the ruling BJP facing a barrage of attacks from rivals, including UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who have also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence over the incident that has triggered sectarian concerns in parts of the country.
Singh became the second senior Union minister to speak out on the matter was joined by finance minister Jaitley who said such incidents bruised India’s image and “can amount to policy diversions”.
“India is a mature society. We need to rise above these kinds of incidents because they certainly do not give a good name as far as the country is concerned,” Jaitley told NDTV in New York after a lecture at Columbia University on Monday.
The finance minister also said it was the responsibility of every Indian, “in his actions or comments, to stay clear of unfortunate or condemnable incidents of this kind.”
Jaitley’s remarks referred to the crime that has raised fears of communal unrest in parts of the country at a time when the Prime Minister has been hard-selling India to foreign investors.
Amid nationwide outrage over the attack, the UP chief minister on Tuesday blamed communal politics for the crime and suggested it was part of a conspiracy to defame his government.
According to an agency report, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) said it should not be dragged into the Dadri lynching case, adding the people responsible for the crime should be punished.