New Delhi: Former vice-president Hamid Ansari has said it is not fair to claim that those who made controversial comments about Prophet Mohammad were “lightweight” and underlined the government had been “mum” when anti-minority and anti-Muslim hate speeches were made at various ‘Dharm Sansads’.
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the matter was “very meaningful” and not accidental.
The BJP had last Sunday suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their controversial remarks against Prophet Mohammad.
Protests erupted in several parts of India on Friday against the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad, leaving two persons dead and a few policemen injured in stone-pelting while security forces had to resort to lathi-charge, tear gas shelling and firing in the air at some places.
Asked about Qatar and other countries’ reaction to the controversial remarks and the opinion in India being divided, Ansari said it is not fair to say that those who gave these statements about the Prophet were “lightweight” as they were functionaries of the ruling party.
“But what is important is that this is not just about one statement. In the last few months, many statements of this nature have been made. In various Dharm Sansads, anti-minority and anti-Muslim hate speeches were given.
“The words may be different, but the government was completely mum and if any action was taken it was very late with no meaning,” he told BBC Hindi in an interview.
It’s not sudden, it was building up for some time and the government was tolerating it because there is a policy, Ansari claimed.
On whether India should apologize, the former vice president said, “I don’t think the Government of India should apologise because in diplomacy there are many mechanisms to deal with differences amongst the countries.”
Asked why the prime minister or the foreign minister were silent, he said, “The prime minister, home minister and foreign minister are the people who are expected to speak. But they all are silent.”
PM Modi has excellent relationships with the heads of all the Gulf countries but his silence is very meaningful, it’s not accidental, he claimed.
“It can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, it can be said the prime minister does not disapprove of what has been said by the BJP spokesperson or it can also be said that he approves of what has been said,” the former vice-president said.
On why the Islamic countries do not say anything on alleged violations in China or treatment to Ahmadiyas and Shia Muslims in Pakistan, Ansari said it is a legitimate question that should be asked.
“Why they spoke about our country should also be asked to them but the point is that this matter is so sensitive that they can’t keep silent on it, their public is angry on this issue,” he said.
About Indian Muslims, he said, “Muslims have been living here for hundreds of years. Since Independence, Indian Muslims have never thought of taking help from foreign countries.”
“I am an Indian citizen and for me, the Constitution of India is my religious book,” Ansari asserted.
His remarks come days after the Ministry of External Affairs said the government has made it clear that the remarks do not reflect the views of the government.
“We have made it pretty clear that tweets and comments do not reflect views of the government,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said at a media briefing.
“This has been conveyed to our interlocutors as also the fact that action has been taken by the concerned quarters against those who made the comments and tweets. I do not think I have anything additional to say on this,” he had said. PTI