Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday issued a stern warning to all those indulging in disrupting the country’s communal harmony, telling India TV’s Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ that the government was dealing with the rioters strictly, irrespective of them being Hindu or Muslim.
“I have said it on several occasions… Even the Union Home Minister has said it. This country belongs to Muslims as much as it does to Hindus,” replied Prasad, when pointed out by Sharma that there were apparent attempts to instil fear in the minds of Muslims through incidents such as Delhi riots.
“Wherever they take place, riots are entirely wrong. Be it a Hindu or a Muslim, a rioter must be dealt with strictly as per the law. The guiding ideology our government has been ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwaas’,” added Prasad.
When probed on the provocative speech made by BJP leader Kapil Mishra on Feb 24, Prasad said that an investigation into the matter was underway, even as he criticised the remarks.
“The matter is in court. Delhi Police has submitted its report. I would just like to state again as the country’s law minister that nobody should use such language,” said Prasad.
Reiterating that the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi was working for everyone irrespective of their religion, the union minister asked, “Did we ever discriminate while disbursing the benefits of our development programmes? Didn’t Muslims get stoves under the Ujjwala scheme (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana)? Has electricity not reached villages inhabited mainly by Muslims?”
“It doesn’t matter if we get votes or not. Working for everyone is our priority,” he added.
Prasad took strong exception to the “perception” being created in the country, in an apparent reference to criticism of the BJP being against minorities.
“When it comes to the question of riot, such incidents are really unfortunate. But the fact remains that bigger riots have taken place in other parts of the country in the past, even under Congress governments,” he said.
The Lok Sabha MP from Patna Sahib revealed that a Muslim tea labourer working in Jalpaigudi for personally telephoned by the Prime Minister, when it was learnt that he had been carrying patients on his back to the hospital in his community, which lacked proper ambulance service.
“The PM invited him over to New Delhi and honoured him with Padma Shri,” said Prasad.