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Those Who Shelter Terrorists Will Not be Spared, Says PM Modi in Dussehra Speech

Marya Shakil, Pranshu Mishra maryashakil

Updated: October 11, 2016, 9:00 PM IST
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Lucknow: Declaring India as a land that put peace on a higher pedestal despite having to wage wars, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has delivered a veiled warning to Pakistan, saying terrorism was the enemy of humanity and those who support terror won’t be tolerated.

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Speaking at Dussehra celebrations in Lucknow, Modi, in his address that eschewed any sense of triumphalism for ordering last month’s surgical strikes on Pakistani soil, clubbed terrorism with corruption, disease and female infanticide and called them the modern day Ravanas that needed to be slayed by all.

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“Terrorism is an enemy of humanity. And Ram is the representative of humanity, he represents human values, human ideals,” he said at Lucknow’s Aishbagh grounds on Tuesday.

Modi’s speech was his first major public event since the September 29 surgical strikes and had been closely watched for political and diplomatic cues on whether he would sound the electoral bugle for Uttar Pradesh, due for elections early next year, and use the surgical strikes in Pakistan as a selling point in the electorally significant state.

Modi did not name Pakistan, but the reference to the neighbor was clear.

“We need to uproot terrorism. People who support terrorism, they too can’t be tolerated,” he said.

Overall, the tone of his speech was lofty, calling India as a land that cherished Buddh (enlightenment) over Yuddh (war). In his speech that deftly conflated the evils inherent in the personality of the mythological villain Ravana with modern day scourges, Modi exhorted India to slay the demons residing in one’s mind. The PM also said the real message of Dussehra was to destroy the demons of casteism, communalism and other forms of discrimination. He stressed upon eradicating the practice of female infanticide, saying women should get justice in this 21st century regardless of the communities they belong to.

“Every year, year after year, we burn that one Ravana who has insulted Sita... But what about those Ravanas who discriminate between sons and daughters? Even today baby girls are killed in the womb. People should be happy when they have boys. They should be even more happy when they have a daughter. It is the Ravana in you that makes you differentiate between boys and girls. We should save our daughters, respect them,” he said.

Yet, his statements on terror were the most keenly watched.

Modi recalled that in 1993 (when the Mumbai blasts happened) he was in the US, meeting officials of the State Department. “But they said terrorism is your law and order issue. They didn’t understand it then. But today, the whole world is acutely aware of the issue of terrorism. Everyone has to stand together against terrorism.”

PM Narendra Modi performs the aarti at the Ramlila event in Lucknow. (PIB PHOTO)

The Prime Minister steered clear of making any reference to the surgical strikes of September 29 by the Indian Army in Pakistan-held territory (PoK), which the opposition had accused BJP of politicising.

Modi reminded the audience that India was a land that progresses from Yudh (war) to Buddh (Lord Budha). For any society, war may be inevitable in certain conditions, but this land is of Budh and not Yudh, he said.

He also said the haunting images of child victims of terror in Syria beamed through television underlines the need for humanity to come together and finish the scourge of terror once and for all.

First Published: October 11, 2016, 7:54 PM IST
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