The issue of “rising intolerance” in India found its echo in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s UK visit as well. While interacting with the British press, PM Modi faced questions on the subject, which is strongly debated at home. Rejecting the contention that “intolerance” is on rise in India, the Prime Minister lent an assurance that intolerance would not be accepted in any part of India.
Several writers, filmmakers and artists, including some of international repute, have returned their awards protesting against what they have been terming as “rising intolerance” in the country.
“India does not accept intolerance even if it is one or two or three incidents. But for a country of 125 crore people whether it is significant or not, it does not matter. For us every incident is serious. We do not tolerate it,” Prime Minister Modi said at the media interaction after talks with his British counterpart David Cameron.
“Law takes strong action and will continue to do so. India is a vibrant democracy which under Constitution provides protection to all citizens, their lives and thoughts. We are committed to it,” PM Modi said in his reply to a BBC reporter, strongly emphasising that India is a “land of Buddha and Gandhi and its culture does not accept anything that is against the basic social values”.
During the press interaction, UK Prime Minister David Cameron backed Mr. Modi saying the former has become the Prime Minister of world’s largest democracy with an “enormous and historic mandate”.
“I am pleased to welcome Modi. He comes here with an enormous and historic mandate. As far as the other issue is concern, there were legal proceedings. Earlier today, he was received by the British government and I discussed with him how the two countries can work together,” Mr. Cameron said.
Replying further to the press, PM Modi added, “I want to set the record straight…. In 2003 when I came here I got an enthusiastic reception then also. The UK had never barred me from coming here. There was no bar. It is a wrong perception. I want to set it right.”
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Modi in London was accorded a guard of honour by the 48-member F Company Scots guard accompanied by the regimental band of Irish guards, amid noisy protests by hundreds on the growing intolerance in India.
Around 300 protesters had gathered outside Downing Street before moving down to Parliament.
“An appropriate policing plan is in place. We are in dialogue with various protest groups to facilitate their requests. No restrictions have been placed on the route,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.
Scotland Yard had, meanwhile, cordoned off Whitehall, the political heart of London which includes Downing Street and other key UK government offices as part of the security arrangements for the visit.
(With inputs from the PTI)