The Prime Minister, who has been accused by opposition and Christian groups of turning a blind eye to a string of recent attacks on five churches and a Christian school in Delhi, said his government "gives equal respect to all religions".
   
"My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.

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"My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions," he said at a function here.
   
He was addressing the national celebration function of the elevation to Sainthood of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Euphrasia at Vigyan Bhawan.


   
In a stern warning to fringe elements, he said, "We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard."

Noting that the world is increasingly witnessing division and hostility on religious lines and the issue has become a matter of global concern, the Prime Minister said the ancient Indian plea of mutual respect for all faiths is now beginning to manifest in global discourse.
    
Observing that the world is at crossroads, he said if not crossed properly it "can throw us back to the dark days of bigotry, fanaticism and bloodshed". He further said that this harmonious convergence among religions could not be achieved even when the world entered the third millennium.
   
Invoking Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said that equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian.
  
Seeking harmony, the Prime Minister appealed to all religious groups to act with restraint, mutual respect and tolerance in the true spirit of the ancient nation which is manifest in the Constitution and in line with the Hague Declaration.
   
Modi's remarks have come after US President Barack Obama said the "acts of intolerance" experienced by religious faiths of all types in India in the past few years would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi.

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