Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ducked a question on US Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s controversial remarks over total shutdown of Muslims entering America but said in India, “we don’t look towards communities with suspicion”.
On being asked by an American reporter to respond to Trump’s comments in the aftermath of the California shooting, Parrikar said the question has the “potential of a nuclear bomb” but did not give a clear response to what he thought of the remarks.
“I’ll not comment on what has been talked about in the US, but as far as India is concerned, we have the second largest Muslim population in the world and we gel well.
“We believe that everyone has equal opportunity, equal rights.
“Yes, maybe there are a few small pockets of extremism, radicalisation, but they are too few to treat the different sections of society differently,” Parrikar said.
“In India, we have equal rights for everyone, and we don’t look towards communities with suspicion. Those who are radicalised is a different issue. We tackle them separately, but that is – those were terrorists,” Parrikar said in response to a question.
On Tuesday, the controversial business tycoon, Trump, called for “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US in the aftermath of the California massacre, in his most divisive remarks yet that drew widespread global condemnation including from his party’s rival candidates and the White House.
According to a statement issued by his campaign, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Parrikar, the first Indian Defence Minister to have addressed the Pentagon correspondents, earlier held talks with his American counterpart Ashton Carter on key defence and regional and global security issues.
Parrikar said during his talks with Carter, terrorism was one of the key topics of discussion.
“Terrorism has become a global phenomenon and requires a comprehensive response. Terrorists of all shades and affiliations must be countered without any differentiation,” he asserted.
On being asked about what India’s role is going to be in combating the Islamic State, Parrikar said India’s “policy has been pretty much the same”.
“While we share intelligence (internationally), whatever role India has to play in accordance with the United Nations, it will play,” he said.
“We don’t mind going a step further,” he said, without elaborating.