No two yardsticks to deal with terror: Minister

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) In a sharp attack on rightwing "terror", India's Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat Friday said the "law of the land" could not have two yardsticks to deal with terror groups as this may cause divisions in India's secular society.

"We must act with neutrality if we want to clean our society. If we condemn Indian Mujahideen (Indian militant group accused of some terror attacks in the country in the past), we must also condemn those groups and organisations involved in the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (that killed a lot of Muslims)," the minister said.

Rightwing activists are alleged to have been involved in the blasts in Maharashtra's Malegaon town and on the Samjhauta Express, carrying passengers from India to Pakistan, that killed scores of people.

Rawat was addressing a gathering on the first day of a two-day international conference on 'India and the Muslim World in the 21st Century' organised by the Institute of Objective Studies at the Constitution Club here.

He congratulated Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his plain speaking at the Congress' Jaipur conclave on terrorism, stating that "evil is an evil" and "we cannot call it by any other name".

Lambasting Hindu fundamentalist groups for their "halla gulla" (hue and cry) on his remarks, Rawat said Shinde had not spoken anything but the truth.

The minister said the Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express blasts had proved beyond doubt that terrorists could be from any community.

Rawat said communal conflicts had reduced considerably in the past few years. Indian society had matured and rejected communal politics.

"Now building temple is not a slogan, which created waves in the past. People are not entertaining such slogans anymore. Realising change, champions of hatred now talk of development and sadbhavana (communal amity)" he said, alluding to the policies of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The conference was inaugurated by Minority Affairs Minister K. Rehman Khan while Deputy Minister of Saudi Arabia Abdul Rehman Ghaman delivered the keynote address in which he stressed on developing strong bonds of friendship between India and the Muslim world.

Rawat admitted that the Muslim community was lagging behind other in education and social and economic fields. The government must take steps to remove all bottlenecks in the way of development.

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed the Sachar Committee to examine the reasons for economic and social backwardness of the minorities and its recommendations are being implemented.

Though the government had taken many initiatives, core steps were still required for their economic uplift, he stated. Many Muslims, he added, were languishing in jails without trial for years and the government needed to address this issue seriously.

Of India's 1.2 billion population, about 12 percent are Muslims, the third large Muslim population in any country after Indonesia and Pakistan.

  • Lincoln MKX Concept lands in China, dreams of America 15 minutes ago
    Lincoln MKX Concept lands in China, dreams of America

    As important as China has become in the global auto industry, it's pull has been entirely that of a consumer rather than a builder. Chinese buyers now purchase more new vehicles a year than Americans, but there's not yet been a move by any major automaker to sell Americans mass-market vehicles made in China.

  • April 21: GM assembles its 100 millionth U.S.-built car on this date in 1967 1 hour 31 minutes ago
    April 21: GM assembles its 100 millionth U.S.-built car on this date in 1967

    Few companies ever reach the dominance that General Motors held on this date in 1967 when it marked the 100 millionth car it had built in the United States at the Janesville, Wis., plant. That year, GM employed some 740,000 people, and was not just the largest automaker in the world but the largest company period. Its market share of the U.S. auto industry was more than 50 percent. Today, the blue Chevy Caprice coupe resides in GM's museum in Flint, Mich.; and while GM still ranks among the world's largest automakers, 1967 was a peak of sorts. Had GM's profits kept pace with inflation since then, it would have made $13 billion last year instead of $3 billion — although its hard to top the year Chevy introduced the Camaro:

  • Monday #sgroundup: 19 Singaporean passengers hospitalised as Malaysia bus plunges into ravine 4 hours ago
    Monday #sgroundup: 19 Singaporean passengers hospitalised as Malaysia bus plunges into ravine

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them. 19 Singaporean passengers hospitalised as Malaysia bus plunges into ravine A passenger bus plunged into a ravine after leaving a Malaysian island resort, killing a British man and injuring … Continue reading →

  • Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
    Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysia Airlines flight heading to India with 166 people aboard made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early Monday after it was forced to turn back when a tire burst upon takeoff, the airline said.

  • 5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus
    5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    As Christians worldwide gather for Easter to celebrate their belief in the death and rebirth of Jesus, researchers continue to delve into the mysteries that surround the man. The following are five questions about Jesus that, for now, at least, remain unanswered. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that the Star of Bethlehem (a celestial event long associated with Jesus' birth) may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Other researchers have claimed that a similar conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter occurred in October of 7 B.C. Still others have claimed that Jesus was born in the spring, based on stories about shepherds watching over their flocks in fields on the night of Jesus' birth — something they would have done in the spring, not the winter.