"To maintain communal harmony, both majority communities and minorities have to work together to create an atmosphere of acceptance and harmony," he said while addressing the annual conference of state minority commissions.

Without referring to any particular incident, the Prime Minister said, "In most parts of the country the relationship between majority and minority communities is harmonious, although there have been instances where this relationship has been put to severe test, especially of late."

"These aberrations tarnish the image of our country and our society. They cause pain and suffering to the affected people. They also disrupt the ability of large sections of our society to contribute to the rapid economic progress of our country," he added.

Muzaffarnagar riots last year left nearly 40 people dead and over 50,000 homeless according to some estimates.

Stating that secularism has been an "age old tradition", the Prime Minister said, “We should be cautious of people who work against India's secular thought by attempting to redefine secularism. Our strength as a country lies in our unity. We should be vigilant against forces that seek to exploit our diversity in religion, language and culture to divide our people."

(Agencies)

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