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PM Narendra Modi Responds to Archbishop's Letter; Lists Christians his Govt Rescued

Thursday, December 7, 2017, 13:07 (IST)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Dec. 3 has said "rashtra bhakti" (nationalism) was the basis for his government to help Indians of diverse faiths, while responding to a letter by an archbishop that was critical about "nationalist forces".

Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar had issued the letter on Nov. 21 urging Christians to pray for the upcoming Gujarat elections to ensure the victory of people "who would remain faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination," and also to save the country from "nationalist forces".

"I was shocked to see a religious person releasing a fatwa (edict) saying, 'Uproot the nationalist forces'. It is rashtra bhakti that guides us to help every Indian in any part of the world," said Modi.

Modi said his government had liberated Indians of different faiths from terrorists. He cited several examples of Christian missionaries and nurses being secured foreign terror zones.

Modi pointed out to the recent rescue of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil from 18 months' Islamic State captivity in Yemen and Fr Alexis Prem Kumar from the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Along with Indians, we rescued citizens of almost 40 countries from (war-torn) Yemen. We did not ask their religion or what language they spoke," he said, according to Telegraph.

"It was our nationalism and humanitarian values that guided us," he added.

In his letter, the archbishop also mentioned that India's "democratic fabric" was at stake amid a growing "sense of insecurity" among the minorities.

"Our nurses from Kerala, mostly Christians, were stranded in Iraq in the custody of terrorists. Can the Prime Minister or any citizen of India sleep in such a situation?" Modi asked.

"Father Tom, also a Keralite, was abducted by terrorists in Yemen last year. He had gone there to spread the message of Jesus Christ. We employed all our resources to bring him back as he is the son of this country," he said.

"Another Christian, Judith D'Souza of West Bengal, was kidnapped in Afghanistan. We applied every trick in the book and brought her back alive from the clutches of terrorists. We were able to do all this humanitarian work because of our rashtra bhakti," he added.

In 2014, some 46 Indian nurses, held by the militants in Iraq for about a month, were secured by Modi government, he mentioned.