Narendra Modi committed to protect minorities: Najma Heptullah

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fully committed to protection of minority communities living in the country as enshrined in the constitution, Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah said on Tuesday.

"The Prime Minister has clearly said that our constitution is the holiest book for us and we are committed to protecting the minorities," Heptullah told reporters here.

The Union minister highlighted the achievements of the Modi-led government during its first year in power. Asked why Modi had remained silent in the wake of several attacks on minorities in the country, Heptullah said no attacks had taken place against minorities.

"The Prime Minister has spoken loud and clear on this issue four times in one year. He spoke about it from the ramparts of Red Fort in his Independence Day speech, then again at vigyan bhawan, during the reply to motion of thanks to President's speech and in interviews to international media. The previous government would not even talk," she said.

She said there were no attacks on minorities or riots in the country, apparently referring to the one-year BJP rule. "Only verbal attacks were taking place but that has stopped now," she said.

Heptullah dodged questions about controversial statements made by some BJP leaders about minority communities, and attacks on minority institutions like Churches in the last one year. "I do not know about any attacks on minorities. There was nothing on television or in the news (papers)," she said when asked about communal riots in East Delhi ahead of Delhi assembly polls earlier this year.

"I live in Delhi, you don't. I don't know about any riots," she added. Asked about the delay in providing relief and rehabilitation assistance to the flood victims of Kashmir, Heptullah said "the Prime Minister announced Rs 1000 crore immediately after the floods. There may be issues in reaching out (to the people)."

The Union Minister also refused to take responsibility of the Prime Minister's Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) announced by the previous UPA government for the students of Jammu and Kashmir.

"We are providing so many scholarships. This (PMSSS) scheme does not come under my ministry," she added.

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