New Delhi: Agreeing that the recent attacks on religious places has "dented" the Narendra Modi government's image, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said these were "unacceptable" and the government follows a "zero tolerance" policy against those disturbing communal harmony in the country.
"We were pained when churches and other religious institutions were being attacked and ransacked. These activities had dented the government's image. The government has taken action," Naqvi told IANS in an interview.
"The prime minister meeting religious leaders and people of different religions is an indicator of how serious the government is on such issues," he said, referring to Modi's meeting with Muslim and Christians leaders.
The BJP leader said the central government follows a "zero tolerance policy on attacks on religious places."
Dubbing the people who attack religious institutions as "criminals", Naqvi said such people have no "religion".
"They don't have any religion. They do it with a criminal mindset," the minister said, adding that attack on any religion by anyone was "unacceptable" to the Modi government.
Modi, who has been accused by opposition and Christian groups of turning a blind eye to a string of recent attacks on five churches and a Christian school in Delhi, broke his silence on Feb 17, saying his government "gives equal respect to all religions".
Naqvi said: "The central government is working towards instilling confidence among the minority communities, especially those who are affected from any kind of violence against them."
He also said that "inclusive development of the weak from any minority community" was the government's main aim.
"We are reaching out to the affected people, irrespective of their faiths, in every corner of the country," Naqvi, who is also the minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said, adding that special efforts were being made to instill a sense of confidence among the "hurt and affected".
"They would die their own death as the people have also rejected them...they too understand that they don't have a future in a country like ours," Naqvi said.
He stressed that India was a secular country because the majority community wanted the country to be so.
Giving an example of neighbouring Pakistan, Naqvi said at the time of independence, when it was created and adopted Islam as its religion, the majority community in India showed the way in ensuring that it remains secular.
The central government's developmental schemes are being implemented in such a way that "power brokers and middlemen", who would misappropriate a major share of the money earmarked for minorities, have no role to play, he said.
"Any help from any government scheme for the minorities would reach them directly as the officials concerned have been directed to ensure fair implementation," he said, adding that loopholes of any kind are being addressed.
"Ours is a sensitive government. We don't have to tell anybody what we are doing to ensure peace and development of the minorities as our actions would speak louder than words," Naqvi said.
Naqvi held 'vote bank politics' responsible for communal disturbances in the country.
"It's a well-known fact. There are political parties and individual leaders who, in order to secure votes, indulge in such acts," the BJP leader said, adding that now people understand their mindset and stop them from succeeding in their designs.