M A I N   N E W S

Assault on culture worrying, says PM
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed anguish over the recent ‘tragic events’ in Orissa, Karnataka and Assam, saying the forces trying to generate an atmosphere of hatred and violence in the country needed to be firmly dealt with.

He made it unequivocally clear that his government would not compromise on terrorism, while asking the law enforcement agencies to ensure that wrong methods or means were not adopted while dealing with the menace. “Any impression that any community, or sections amongst them, is being targeted or that some kind of profiling is being attempted, should be avoided.’’

The Prime Minister was addressing the 14th meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) taking place at a time when the UPA government is facing criticism from its allies for allegedly targeting minorities in its anti-terrorism drive. Some UPA allies have expressed concern over the attacks on Christians in Orissa and Karnataka and demanded dismissal of the NDA governments in the two states.

The meeting of the NIC comes four days before Parliament reconvenes for what is expected to be a stormy session.

Speaking about ‘fissiparous tendencies’ in some states, Singh said ethnicity and religion were being used as arguments to stir divisions in Orissa, Kartanaka, Maharashtra and Assam.

“We can take pride in our inheritance of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-caste society. We must not, however, ignore the fact that there is need for utmost vigilance and caution to sustain such an inheritance.’’

Referring to the Naxalite violence, the Prime Minister said mindless violence must be met with the requisite force, and this must be tempered with reason and justice.

“We have defence mechanisms to prevent such divisive trends from spreading as also the necessary instruments to overcome these. We need, nevertheless, to be subtle in the manner in which these are employed.

“It is a tribute to our political process that over 60 years we have successfully met the challenges without undermining our social fabric and tradition,” he added.

Noting that the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today perhaps was the assault on the country's composite culture, he said: “Today, we see fault-lines developing between and among communities.”

The PM said the NIC needed to exert immense moral authority on the nation collectively to ensure that the pluralistic and secular foundations of the country were nourished, maintained and strengthened.

“We need to isolate and fight those who promote divisiveness,’’ he added.

Set up 47 years ago, the National Integration Council has held only 13 meetings, prompting demands that it should meet at least once a year.



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