New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comment on Indian Muslims that they will "live for India and die for India", was Saturday welcomed by many Muslim groups and leaders, even as some said that Modi should rein in leaders who "spew venom" against the minority community.
Maulana Kalb-e-Jawwad, imam of the Asfi mosque in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, said Muslims should breathe easy now since the prime minister has put their patriotism in the right perspective.
"Ever since Modi was elected prime minister, various political forces were trying to cow them down by creating a bogey of fear," he said.
Maulana Fazal-ul-Rehman, the imam of the Teele Waali mosque, said there was no reason to doubt what the prime minister said.
"While we welcome Modi's statement, we will also urge him to rein in the likes of Sakshi Maharaj and Adityanath in his party who are spewing venom against the minority community," he said.
Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali, imam of the Aishbagh Eidgah in Lucknow, said Muslims in India were always full of love for the country and would always be loyal and patriotic to India.
In the national capital, however, Muslim organisations asked why should the community need a certificate from the prime minister on their loyalty towards India.
"Why is Modi saying this? Indian Muslims have always been patriotic and they do not need any certificate for this," Ansar, associate PRO of the Jama Masjid, told IANS.
He said Modi should instead convince those within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Hindu leaders who have been spewing venom against the community.
"If the prime minister is really interested in advocating our cause, he should go and tell the same to Yogi Adityanath, Maneka Gandhi and Praveen Togadia," Ansar said.
In an exclusive interview to CNN's Fareed Zakaria, his first after becoming prime minister, Modi said: "If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their (Al Qaeda) tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will live for India, they will die for India, they will not want anything bad for India."
Wadood Sajid, media advisor to the president of the India Islamic Cultural Centre, said the statement was "surprising".
"It was a very surprising statement but we wholeheartedly welcome it. Modi is not just a BJP leader now. He is not the prime minister of any one community either. He is everybody's prime minister," Sajid told IANS.
He said the IICC hopes Modi will take up the cause of Muslim youth implicated in false terrorism cases.
"IICC president Sirajuddin Qureshi met Modi two weeks after he became prime minister. Modi had assured that he understands that the case of Muslim youth implicated in false terror cases is a sensitive one," he said.
Meanwhile, Ashraf Usmani, PRO of Darul Uloom, said Modi's statement though late was an apt one.
"Muslims have always been loyal to the country and will always remain so. Modi gave this statement late but this is a very correct statement," he told IANS.
Hoping that actions do not belie words, Usmani said Modi should live up to what he said.
"He should prove his good intent for the Muslims by ensuring that our community is not treated as second class citizens," Usmani said.