'I want to assure the country that no country, no government can tolerate anybody taking the law into their hands, whether it is an individual or a group.'
Talking tough, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that violence in the name of faith of any kind won't be tolerated and the guilty would be punished, in a clear reference to the mayhem caused by the followers of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
He said nobody has the right to take the law into own hands and everybody will have to bow before the law.
Invoking Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi to remind about the country's tradition of non-violence, Modi said the Constitution prepared by B R Ambedkar provides scope for redressal of all kinds of grievances and justice to all.
"On the one hand, the country is in the midst of celebrating festivals and on the other, when news of violence from any part of the country comes in, it is only natural of be concerned," the prime minister said in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' which he began with this issue.
Though he did not take any names, he was clearly referring to the mayhem caused by the followers of Ram Rahim, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, in Haryana after his conviction in a rape case on last Friday.
"Ours is the country of Buddha and Gandhi. It is the land of Sardar Patel who gave up his all for the unity of the nation. For centuries, our forefathers have imbibed community values, non-violence, mutual respect – these are inherent to us," Modi said.
He highlighted the concept of Ahimsa Parmo Dharmah (non-violence is the biggest religion).
"From the ramparts of the Red Fort, I had said (in the recent Independence Day address) 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," the prime minister asserted.
"No one has the right to take the law into one's own hands in the name of one's beliefs," he added.
"I want to assure my countrymen that people who take the 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," he said.
He said everybody will have to bow before the law which will "fix accountability and the guilty will unquestionably be punished."
Followers of Ram Rahim went on the rampage in Panchkula and some other parts of Haryana on last Friday after a Central Bureau of Investigation court convicted him of rape in a 2002 case.
During his 30-minute broadcast, the prime minister also spoke about a number of other issues like richness of the country's diversity, asked people to undertake 'Cleanliness is Service' campaign ahead of the Gandhi Jayanti and mentioned about schemes like Jan Dhan for empowerment of the poor.
In the context of the upcoming 'Teacher's Day' on September 5, the birthday of former President Dr. Radhakrishnan, he suggested that people should make a resolve to 'Teach to Transform, Educate to Empower, Learn to Lead'.
Modi pointed out that India has a rich cultural heritage, spanning thousands of years, and in this context, talked about the festivals which are replete with diversity.
He said India is a land of diversities which are not limited to cuisine, lifestyle and attire but can be seen in every walk of life.
He hailed Muslim organisation Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, saying its volunteers had recently cleaned 22 temples and two mosques affected by floods in Gujarat, setting a "fine" and "inspiring" example of unity.
"When we look at our cultural traditions, social customs, historical events, there would hardly be a day left in the year which is not connected with a festival," he said.
He said the Indian festivals follow the almanac of nature and there is a direct connect with nature. "Many of our festivals are linked straightaway with farmers and fishermen."
He mentioned festivals like 'Samvatsari', celebrated by the Jain community yesterday, as also Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam, Navaratri in Gujarat, Durga puja in Bengal and Eid-ul-Zuha. He extended his greetings to the nation regarding these occasions.
"The festival of Samvatsari is symbolic of forgiveness, non-violence and brotherhood," Modi said.
"'Kshama Veerasya Bhushanam', that is, forgiveness is the adornment of the brave. The one who forgives is valiant. And Mahatma Gandhi always said, that forgiveness is the quality of great men," Modi said.
He also quoted Shakespeare's play 'The Merchant of Venice', saying it explained the importance of forgiveness as it spoke about "Mercy is twice blest, It blesseth him that gives and him that takes". It means the forgiver and the forgiven both stand to receive divine blessing.
Referring to Ganesh Chaturthi, he said this mega festival stands for unity, equality, integrity and honesty. "My heartiest greetings to all of you on the occasion of Ganeshotsav," Modi said.
Onam, which is mainly celebrated in Kerala, showcases the rich cultural heritage of the state and gives the message of love and harmony, awakens new hopes and aspirations, and gives new confidence to the people, he said.
Festivals like Navaratri in Gujarat and Durga puja in Bengal are tremendous tourist attractions, he added.
"In this series of festivals, Eid-ul-Zuha will be celebrated in a few days from now. Heartiest felicitations and best wishes to all countrymen on the occasion of Eid-ul-Zuha," the prime minister said.
He said festivals are symbols of faith and belief and in the 'New India', "we should transform them into symbols of cleanliness as well."
"Public cleanliness must be insisted upon not just in our homes but in our villages, towns, cities, states and in our entire country -- cleanliness has to be inextricably linked to our festivals," Modi said.
He asked people to undertake 'Cleanliness is Service' campaign, 15 days ahead of the Gandhi Jayanti to mark the third anniversary of the launch of 'Swachch Bharat' programme.
On the eve of the third anniversary of the launch of Jan Dhan Yojna, the prime minister also said that 30 crore new families have got such accounts in which almost Rs 65,000 crore have been deposited.
He said banks have conducted surveys about how the common man has benefitted from Jan Dhan Yojna as also from insurance schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jeewan Jyoti Bima Yojna and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna, from RuPay Card and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna and these surveys have thrown up "inspiring stories".
IMAGE: Vehicles burn in the violence in Panchkula, August 25, 2017. Photograph: PTI Photo