Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday said that secularism as an Indian value was a “perfect passion” in the country and not, as some assumed, subject to “political fashion”.

Mr. Naqvi’s statement, after he spoke to leaders of Muslim groups to send out messages of “at home” observance of the Ramzan period of fasting, comes a day after India’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Pavan Kapoor had to defend India’s record on secularism. Mr. Kapoor’s intervention came when prominent sections of the UAE’s ruling class took exception to divisive and anti-Muslim social media posts by Indian handles.

Mr. Naqvi reiterated that constitutional, social and religious rights of all the citizens, including the minorities, were India’s constitutional and moral guarantees. “Traditional and professional bogus bashing brigades are still active in conspiracy to spread misinformation. We should remain cautious of such evil forces and we need to work united to defeat their nefarious misinformation propaganda,” he said.

He also said that there was a need to remain cautious of any type of fake news and conspiracies aimed at creating misinformation. “The authorities have been working for the safety and well-being of all citizens of the country. Such type of rumours and conspiracies are a nefarious design to weaken the fight against Corona. We should work united to win this fight against Corona by defeating any type of rumour, misinformation and conspiracy”, he said.

“All the Muslim religious leaders, imams, religious and social organisations and the Muslim community have jointly decided to offer prayers and perform other religious rituals during the holy month of Ramzan, which will start from 24th April, staying inside their home,” he said.

Ramzan strategy

He added that more than 30 state waqf boards had “started working on the strategy to ensure strict and honest implementation of lockdown, curfew and social distancing during Ramzan with the coordination and cooperation of all the Muslim religious leaders, Imams, religious and social organisations, the Muslim community and local administration. The entire country has been fighting united against Corona pandemic.

A decision was taken last week during a meeting of all the state waqf boards through video conferencing under the chairmanship of Mr. Naqvi that all the boards would ensure strict and honest implementation of lockdown, curfew and social distancing during Ramzan.

It is to be noted that more than 7 lakh registered mosques, eidgah, imambada, dargah and other religious and social institutions come under the state waqf boards across the country. The Central Waqf Council is the regulatory body for state waqf boards in India.

“In view of the challenges of Corona pandemic, all the religious-social activities and mass gathering in all the temples, gurdwaras, churches and other religious & social places of the country have been stopped,” he said, highlighting the universal nature of such prohibitions.