In backing an interfaith dialogue on Saturday, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has led from the front to foster a movement for communal harmony based on India’s very own inclusive tradition.
The dialogue among representatives of different faiths--Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism organized by the All India Sufi Sajjada Nasheen Council (AISSC) was not a one-off event. Instead, it began a process for promoting societal harmony on a positive agenda, and simultaneously isolating forces of radicalism, irrespective of faith.
Doval asserted at the conference that a concerted effort had been mounted by certain elements in India and abroad to stall India’s progress by spreading communal discord.
“They're creating acrimony and conflict in the name of religion and ideology. It's affecting the entire country while spilling over outside the country, too,” Doval observed.
The inter-faith conference forms part of the BJP-led government's efforts to reach out to various faiths in order to reduce religious tensions that have escalated in the wake of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammed and extreme reactions from a section of Barelvi Muslims to her remarks, which have echoed in certain parts of the globe.
The hysteria had led to the beheading of tailor Kanhaiya Lal by two Muslim youths in Udaipur, who even filmed the act and threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The National Investigation Agency is investigating the killing.
Targeting radicalization, the conference proposed banning oganisations like PFI and any other such fronts, “who have been indulging in anti-national activities, pursuing a divisive agenda and creating discord amongst our citizens”. At the same time, it stressed in the context of the Nupur Sharma controversy and the arrest of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair who has been accused of tweeting “questionable” image to “deliberately insult the god of a particular religion”, that, “Targeting any God/ goddesses / prophets in discussions/ debates by anyone should be condemned and dealt with as per law.” The pioneers of the inter-faith dialogue also observed that “social media platforms are being used for promoting hatred against religions and its followers”.
Consequently, the way forward will be guided by the basic principle that all Indians must be imbued with a strong sense of a common national identity, which is higher than all other sub-identities, including religion and caste. Thus, a movement for harmony which would be taken to the state and district levels will motivate the youth, which comprises more than 70 per cent of India’s population to cherish the ideals of the Indian Constitution, the country’s basic law.
Second the campaign will pursue the concept of “Hubbul Watani”—a doctrine espousing that the duty to the nation is an individual’s most sacred duty.
During his address today, Indian NSA Ajit Doval pointed how 6 Indian Ulemas established an Indian govt in exile in Afghanistan in 1915 & appointed Raja Mahendra Pratap as the President.— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) July 30, 2022
Pratap in Kabul, along with German & Turkish delegates (1915) pic.twitter.com/BOmPWREcAe
“Instead of being mute spectators, we have to work on the ground to narrow our differences along with strengthening our voices. We've to make every sect of India feel that we are a country together, we are proud of it and that every religion can be professed with freedom here,” the NSA explained.
Instead of being guided by a foreign doctrine, communal harmony needs to be based on India’s unique civilizational tradition. The statement stressed that the Indian civilization has a “history of peaceful coexistence”. It pointed out that all religions in India share the idea of loving compatriots “without any discrimination”.
The statement specifically notes that “Islam and Sufism have also endorsed this very idea In India since 12th century”. Therefore, in a foundationally strong India, there is no space for hate and agitation against any religion in the country.