Hours after black ink was thrown at Jammu & Kashmir MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid in the national capital for his pro-beef stance, President Pranab Mukherjee issued another statement on rising intolerance by fringe elements in the country.
“Humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance. Assimilation through receiving is a characteristic of Indian society. Our collective strength must be harnessed to resist evil powers in society,” Mukherjee said.
Addressing a gathering organised by Nayaprajanma, a local weekly newspaper in New Delhi, he wondered whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane?
He reminded the audience of the teachings of Ramakrishna Paramhansa ‘Jato Mat Tato Path’ (“As there are a number of beliefs, there are a number of ways”.
“Indian civilisation has survived for 5000 years because of its tolerance. It has always accepted dissent and differences. A large number of languages, 1,600 dialects and 7 religions coexist in India. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences,” the President said.
The President’s strong words on the need to maintain pluralism and dissent in the society come against the backdrop of series of hate incidents including in Mumbai where BJP ally Shiv Sena forced cancellation of a music concert by Pakistani legend Ghulam Ali and talks between Indian and Pakistani cricket board Chiefs and blackened the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Less than a fortnight ago against the backdrop of Dadri lynching, the President made a strong appeal for maintaining the core civilizational values of diversity, tolerance and plurality that have kept India united for centuries which he said cannot be wasted.
The President’s strong condemnation came on a day when an independent MLA from Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdul Rashid was the target of a fringe Hindu outfit which threw ink and mobil oil on him at the Press Club in Delhi protesting against the beef party he held in Srinagar earlier this month. Earlier, he was also beaten up in the state assembly by BJP legislators.