Against the backdrop of rising communal tensions in various parts of the country, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reportedly said that there was no communal intolerance between communities, only some fringe elements "who want to disturb the peace and harmony in the society."
Naqvi, in an interview with The Economic Times, said that wearing a hijab wasn't banned in India and that banning loudspeakers in mosques shouldn't be painted as a communal issue.
In response to a question about whether the government planned to ban halal meat, he said that India's citizens had the freedom to eat what they wanted.
"It is not the job of the government to tell the people what to eat or not. Every citizen has freedom in the country to eat the food of their choice,"Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to The Economic Times
Clashes broke out between students of Jawaharlal Nehru University over non-vegetarian food being served in a hostel mess on Ram Navami on 10 April.
Other instances of violence, stone-pelting, and arson were also reported from several states across India on the occasion.
In Delhi's Jahangirpuri, communal clashes broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday evening in which nine persons were injured. Fourteen have been held, according to the police.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, there are rising tensions over the demand to remove loudspeakers from mosques, fueled by MNS chief Raj Thackeray's comments.
‘There Is No Ban on Hijab in India'
Commenting on the Karnataka High Court's decision to uphold the ban on Muslim girls wearing a hijab in schools and colleges, Naqvi told the publication that "some people are giving communal colour" to the issue as part of a conspiracy to "defame India’s inclusive culture and commitment."
"There is no ban on Hijab in India. One can wear Hijab in markets and other places. But every college or institution has a dress code, discipline, and decorum. We will have to accept this. If you do not like it, you can choose a different institution."Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to The Economic Times
On the loudspeaker issue, he pointed to noise pollution laws and said that there was no need to paint the situation with communal colour.
Naqvi also said that the JNU clashes were not related to the consumption of meat and called it a "fabricated, false and fake narrative."
"The issue occurred when some people opposed the puja on Ram Navami. The puja was opposed by those with a nefarious mindset to defame the country’s strength of unity and harmony," he told ET.
(With inputs from The Economic Times.)