President Mukherjee Queries If 'Tolerance Is On The Wane?'

19/10/2015 8:49 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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SERGEI GAPON via Getty Images
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee listens to his Belarus' counterpart during a signing ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Minsk on June 3, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI GAPON (Photo credit should read SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images)

Ink strewn on a Kashmir MLA for his pro-beef stance, an Australian gheraoed and threatened in Bangalore for sporting a tattoo of a tribal goddess and the redoubtable Shiv Sena disrupting a meet to discuss a possible India-Pakistan match--all of these may have cumulatively weighed on President Pranab Mukherjee after he appealed for tolerance--the second time this fortnight--and for citizens to make space for dissent.

Ahead of Dusshera celebrations, celebrated in many forms across the country as a victory of good over evil, President Mukherjee was at public function in West Bengal's Birbhum district, where he said, "We celebrate diversity, we promote tolerance, we accept dissent... and if it wasn't there India's civilization couldn't have survived for 5,000 years and in any circumstances."

"Humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance," he tweeted later to drive in the point. "Our collective strength must to be harnessed to resist evil powers in society. Hope Mahamaya - the combination of all positive forces would eliminate the Asuras or divisive forces."

President Pranab Mukherjee was in West Bengal on a four-day trip to his ancestral house at Kirnahar in Birbhum district to attend family Durga Puja

The President first beseeched tolerance on October 8, days after a mob lynched a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri, allegedly over rumours of cow slaughter. "We can't allow core values of our civilisation to be wasted... The core values are that civilisation has celebrated diversity, promoted and advocated tolerance, endurance and plurality," he had said.

But since then, more cases of lynching over rumours of cow killings have been reported from elsewhere -- Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur and Nahan, Himachal Pradesh.

Referring to what he called "recent events as highlighted by the media" the President said these reports were planting doubts on whether the country is "progressing on the right path".

A handful of activists allegedly belonging to a right-wing organisation blackened the face of independent MLA of J-K Assembly Sheikh Abdul Rashid using paint, ink and mobil oil protesting against his hosting a beef party in Srinagar earlier this month. -

Earlier this month, Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concerts in Mumbai and Pune were cancelled following Shiv Sena protests.

In another episode of intimidation, workers from the right-wing party dunked columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni with paint because he was hosting former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book launch in Mumbai.

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