Expressing concerns over the “storm of hatred” in the country, Jama Masjid’s Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of Indian Muslims.
In his Friday sermon from the historic mosque, citing recent incidents like the Nuh riots and the killing of four persons by a railway police personnel on a running train, Bukhari suggested that PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah hold dialogue with intellectuals from the community.
“The situation in the country is worrisome and a storm of hatred is posing grave danger to peace in the country. I have been compelled to speak due to the existing situation in the country,” Bukhari said.
“The Muslims are troubled due to the prevailing conditions and worried about their future. You say your ‘Mann Ki Baat’ but you also need to listen to the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of Muslims,” Bukhari said, in a reference to PM Modi’s monthly radio programme.
The Shahi Imam of the iconic Jama Masjid alleged that the law is proving to be “weak” and ineffectual in dealing with communal violence and hate.
Bukhari said, “Panchayats are being held where boycott calls for Muslims and ending trade and business (ties) with them was proclaimed. The people of one faith are being openly threatened. There are 57 Islamic countries in the world where non-Muslims also live but do not face any threat to their lives or livelihood.”
Lamenting that the “relationship” between Hindus and Muslims was “endangered”, Bukhari asked, “Why this hatred in India? Was the freedom won by our ancestors for this day? Will the Hindus and Muslims now live separately?”
Adding that it is in the hands of the government to control the situation, he added, “I want to ask you on behalf of the Muslims of the country to talk to us, we are ready. I want to say to the prime minister and the home minister to be generous and talk to the Muslim intellectuals.” The chief cleric also suggested that the Centre could hold a meeting with the members of Muslim community in order to “save the country” from the prevailing “storm of hatred”.
Mann Ki Baat is a radio programme hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he addresses the people of the nation on All India Radio, DD National and DD News. Since the first show on 3 October 2014, there have been 97 episodes. The 100th episode of Mann Ki Baat was broadcast on 30 April 2023 and it was a worldwide broadcast.
The main purpose of the program is to “establish a dialogue with the citizens on issues of day-to-day governance”, according to a statement by the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the Rajya Sabha in July 2021. The programme is India’s “first visually enriched radio program”.
As Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ approached its 100th episode on 30 April 2023, a survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, showed that at least 23 crore people have ‘listened to or viewed’ Modi’s monthly radio broadcast regularly and over 100 crore people have listened to it at least once. However, a study by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) released in November 2022 reported a very low listener-ship of the programme.