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Posted on Feb 15, 05:10PM | IANS
New Delhi, Feb 15 : In a sharp attack on rightwing "terror", India's Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat Friday said the "law of the land" could not have two yardsticks to deal with terror groups as this may cause divisions in India's secular society.
"We must act with neutrality if we want to clean our society. If we condemn Indian Mujahideen (Indian militant group accused of some terror attacks in the country in the past), we must also condemn those groups and organisations involved in the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (that killed a lot of Muslims)," the minister said.
Rightwing activists are alleged to have been involved in the blasts in Maharashtra's Malegaon town and on the Samjhauta Express, carrying passengers from India to Pakistan, that killed scores of people.
Rawat was addressing a gathering on the first day of a two-day international conference on 'India and the Muslim World in the 21st Century' organised by the Institute of Objective Studies at the Constitution Club here.
He congratulated Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his plain speaking at the Congress' Jaipur conclave on terrorism, stating that "evil is an evil" and "we cannot call it by any other name".
Lambasting Hindu fundamentalist groups for their "halla gulla" (hue and cry) on his remarks, Rawat said Shinde had not spoken anything but the truth.
The minister said the Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express blasts had proved beyond doubt that terrorists could be from any community.
Rawat said communal conflicts had reduced considerably in the past few years. Indian society had matured and rejected communal politics.
"Now building temple is not a slogan, which created waves in the past. People are not entertaining such slogans anymore. Realising change, champions of hatred now talk of development and sadbhavana (communal amity)" he said, alluding to the policies of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The conference was inaugurated by Minority Affairs Minister K. Rehman Khan while Deputy Minister of Saudi Arabia Abdul Rehman Ghaman delivered the keynote address in which he stressed on developing strong bonds of friendship between India and the Muslim world.
Rawat admitted that the Muslim community was lagging behind other in education and social and economic fields. The government must take steps to remove all bottlenecks in the way of development.
He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed the Sachar Committee to examine the reasons for economic and social backwardness of the minorities and its recommendations are being implemented.
Though the government had taken many initiatives, core steps were still required for their economic uplift, he stated. Many Muslims, he added, were languishing in jails without trial for years and the government needed to address this issue seriously.
Of India's 1.2 billion population, about 12 percent are Muslims, the third large Muslim population in any country after Indonesia and Pakistan.