Describing the Muzaffarnagar riots as “very sad”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said only a very small group of people was responsible for creating such trouble which needed to be checked.
Dr. Singh said India is a country where diverse religions have flourished together for centuries and have enriched each other and its people have an overall secular outlook.
“I believe that it is only a very small group of people that is responsible for creating divisions amongst us. I also believe that it is the solemn duty of each one of us to resist these forces,” he said at the national communal harmony awards function in New Delhi.
The Prime Minister said the function was organised in the backdrop of heightened communal tensions in some parts of the country.
“These are very sad developments which should make us all reflect on our individual and collective obligations to promote goodwill and amity in our polity and society,” he said.
Dr. Singh said the country is characterised by great diversity and it also has a very proud legacy of tolerance and respect for ways of thinking other than one’s own.
“Let me take this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the Central Government to make every possible effort to promote communal harmony and national integration in our country,” he said, adding the government has called a meeting of the National Integration Council on September 23 to explore ways and means for achieving these ends.
The National Communal Harmony Award for 2011 have been given to Shri Khamliana of Mizoram and Md Abdul Bari of Odisha.
The award in the organisation category for 2012 was given to Delhi-based Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity.
The Prime Minister said the two individuals, whom the honour was given, have done exemplary work which makes everyone proud.
Dr. Singh said Khamliana’s contribution to strengthening cohesiveness and goodwill in the society (in Mizoram) covers a diverse range of areas -- rehabilitation of drug addicts, prevention of AIDS, cultural exchange programmes to promote national integration and unity, resource mobilisation for orphanages and rescue homes.
The Prime Minister said Bari’s career was another example of selfless service to the people as he has worked to successfully prevent potential disturbances in his district Bhadrak (Odisha) and to contain them when they had occurred.
Dr. Singh said the Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity has now worked for 28 years for promoting communal harmony and national integration and it has achieved these objectives through a variety of activities and the involvement of the youth and students.
“It gives me happiness that through today’s awards we have been able to know about the work of Khamliana, Bari and The Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity. We need more individuals and organisations like them,” he said.