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I used word Hindi not Hindu: Heptulla

Posted on Aug 30 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Aug 29 : Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma A. Heptulla Friday clarified that she used the word "Hindi" to describe all citizens of the country and not "Hindu" that a media report quoted her as saying.

Her comments came on the day a media report quoted her as saying that "there is nothing wrong with the term Hindu being applied equally for all citizens as a label of national identity".

"We are Indians, that's our nationality. I used the word Hindi. It's an Arabic word. If we go to Arabia, people from India are known as Hindi and if they go to England or other places they are known as Indians," Heptulla told reporters at her residence.

"That is our national identity, our nationality," she added.

Heptulla said she was referring to the identity of Indians and not their religion.

"I was referring to Hindi as an identity not religion. When we go abroad, people don't ask our religion but our identity," she told a news channel.

However, the media house, which conducted the interview, has released the audio recording where Heptulla made the alleged comments.

The minister also refused to comment on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat's comment earlier in the month that India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is its identity.

Congress reacted sharply to her comments.

Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said: "We respect Najmaji a lot but it would be better if she reads the constitution. The constitution mentions "Bharat" and going by that, every citizen of the country is a "Bharatiya" and not Hindu."

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