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We will protect religious rights of minorities: PM
September 29, 2008 18:41 IST
Against the backdrop of attacks on Christians in Orissa and Karnataka, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Monday said the Centre was firmly committed to defending secular values and to protect the religious rights of all minorities.
The issue of the attacks on Christians came up during a meeting between him and French President Nicholas Sarkozy as the head of the EU, who said they were reassured by the prime minister on the treatment of Christians.
"He is a great man and he proved it again," he said in a joint interaction with the Prime Minister after India-EU summit.
Dr Singh said India is a secular state and it was multi-religious and the constitution guarantees all the minorities the freedom to propagate the religion of their choice.
Referring to the attacks on Christians and churches mainly in these two states, he said, there have been some incidents in some parts of the country and the Central government has taken a firm stand on them.
Calling it a national shame, the Centre has sent its forces to the state to ensure law and order.
"I would like to reaffirm that the Government of India stands firm to defend the secular values, which are the foundations of our constitution. We respect all minorities and their right to propagate the religion of their choice," Dr Singh said.
"But we have rules concerning the neutrality of civil servants and secularism. The rules apply to all in the territory of France. This applies to everybody with no exception. But there is no discrimination and Sikhs are welcome.
"We respect their traditions and customs and I hope they also respect France's rules," he said.
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