'India heaven for Muslims': Union minister Naqvi hits out at Islamic group

File photo of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for accusing India of Islamophobia, saying the country is "heaven for Muslims".

Asserting that the social, economic and religious rights of Muslims are secure in India, Naqvi said "secularism and harmony" is not a "political fashion", but a "perfect passion" for India and Indians.

Naqvi's comments come two days after the 57-member prominent international Mulim grouping, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), asked India to take "urgent steps" to protect the rights of its minority Muslim community and stop the incidents of "Islamophobia" in the country.

"We are doing our job with conviction. The prime minister whenever he speaks, he talks about the rights and welfare of 130 crore Indians. If somebody cannot see this, then it is their problem. India's Muslims, its minorities, all its sections of the society, are prosperous and those people trying to vitiate this atmosphere of prosperity, they cannot be friends of Indian Muslims," the minister told reporters when asked about the OIC's criticism.

On some scholars in Gulf nations censuring India for alleged crimes against Muslims, Naqvi asserted, "India is a heaven for Muslims and minorities. If somebody is saying something with a prejudiced mindset, then he should look at the ground reality.

Muslims have been empowered in the last five years in various spheres and have an equal share in the progress of the country, he said.

In this country, there is such a large population of Muslims. An analysis of their educational, social and economic conditions in the last five years should be looked at, their share in government jobs has increased and they have been educationally and economically empowered," Naqvi said.

Asked about Maulana Azad National Urdu University Chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed's suggestion that the lockdown be extended till May 24 to cover the period of Ramzan, Naqvi said the government has been taking steps at appropriate times.

Muslims have had an equal share in the progress of all sections and if India is progressing, the community is also progressing, he asserted.

"We should ensure that our strength of unity in diversity' is not weakened under any circumstances. Professional bogus bashing brigades" are still active and conspiring to spread misinformation, Naqvi said.

Cautioning against fake news and conspiracies aimed at spreading misinformation, he said the authorities have been working for safety and well-being of all citizens, and rumour-mongering and conspiracies are a "nefarious design" to weaken the fight against coronavirus.

"Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the entire country is united in the fight against coronavirus by breaking all barriers of caste, religion and region" and the cooperation has brought great relief to India in the war against COVID-19, but still several challenges are there before the country, he added.

Speaking about the holy month of Ramzan, which is to start from April 24 or 25, Naqvi said all Muslim religious leaders, imams as well as religious and social organisations have jointly decided to offer prayers and perform other religious rituals during Ramzan staying inside their home.

More than 30 state waqf boards have already started working on a strategy to ensure strict and honest implementation of lockdown, curfew and social distancing during Ramzan with the cooperation of the Muslim community after a decision in this regard was taken during a meeting, chaired by Naqvi through video-conferencing, last week.

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