Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Sunday said violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, a day before a court is to announce the quantum of punishment to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim
A Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula had on Friday held Singh guilty in a rape case. Alleged supporters of the Dera sect chief had then gone on the rampage, burning vehicles and train compartments. As many as 38 people were killed in the violence. Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar-led Bharatiya Janata Party government had come under severe criticism from political parties and on social media by common people for its failure to maintain peace.
There are fears there might be more violence on Monday when the quantum of punishment for the Dera chief is announced in Rohtak, where he is lodged in a jail.
In his Mann Ki Baat
broadcast on Sunday, the PM said he would reiterate what he had said in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort. “I had said that violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, whether it is communal belief systems, whether it is subscribing to political ideologies, whether it is allegiance to a person or customs and traditions,” he said. But the PM said in his address: “No one has the right to take the law into one’s own hands in the name of one’s beliefs.”
Many of the Dera chief’s supporters are from the marginalised communities. Modi said in the “Constitution given to us by Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there’s every provision for ensuring justice for each and every person.” Ambedkar, regarded as the architect of the Constitution, is a Dalit icon.
“I want to assure my countrymen that people who take law into their own hands and are on the path of violent suppression — whether it is a person or a group — neither this country nor any government will tolerate it. Each and every person will have to abide by the law; the law will fix accountability and the guilty will unquestionably be punished,” he said.
India is the country of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, the land of Vallabhbhai Patel, who gave up everything for the unity of the nation, he said. “For centuries, our forefathers have imbibed community values, non-violence, mutual respect — these are inherent to us.”
The PM said his government’s Jan Dhan Yojana for financial inclusion completes three years on Monday. It was launched on August 28, 2014. He said 300 million new families have been linked to this scheme and bank accounts have been opened. Modi said almost Rs 65,000 crore has been deposited in Jan Dhan accounts. The PM said under the Mudra scheme and Startup India-Stand Up Scheme, Dalits, tribals, women, educated youth have been able to get loans from banks without any guarantee.
A deserted view of the Satnam Singh Chowk on Beghu Road, leading to Dera Sacha Sauda, during curfew in Sirsa on Sunday | Photo: PTI
With the Modi government being criticised for failing to fulfil its promise of providing 20 million jobs a year and job growth having plummeted, the PM said the people who have got bank loans “have been able to stand on their own feet and have succeeded in giving employment to one or two other people as well”.
“I recently met a few bankers who shared inspiring stories from their survey. There isn’t enough time today. But I would certainly like request the bankers to upload these inspiring stories on MyGov.in so that people can read them and be inspired by how a scheme can bring about transformation in the life of a person…,” he added.
There have been no indications from Prime Minister Modi or BJP chief Amit Shah that Haryana CM Khattar might be sacked for his government’s administrative failures to prevent the violence. But the Modi government and the BJP are concerned about the narrative around that incident among their party’s urban supporters.