Protests conveyed to Denmark on Prophet cartoon, says Govt

New Delhi, Feb 20 | Updated: Feb 21 2006, 05:30am hrs
Concerned over the growing perception that the UPA, which has never shied from tomtoming its support to the cause of minorities, was lagging in responding to the raging controversy over caricatures of Prophet Mohammed that appeared in a Danish newspaper, the government on Monday was forced to embark on a damage-control exercise on the issue.

Government managers said the sense of outrage had been taken up at the highest level and revealed communication sent by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December to his Danish counterpart on the mattera move that reportedly came after oblique hints from the Congress high-command that it was appalled by governments slow footwork criticism by friendly parties like the Left.

The government has to take a pro-active role and intervene in the matter to reduce tension, CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu told reporters here, making the Lefts viewpoint clear.

On the other hand, parties like the SP are taking advantage of the issue politically to the extent that one of the ministers in the SP-ruled Uttar Pradesh even declared a Rs 51-crore reward for the head of the cartoonist.

The UPA leadership is planning to move a resolution in Parliament either on Tuesday or Wednesday condemning the move, though there are some reservations in some sections of the party, who feel that an official statement from the government would be a better option.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is believed to have sought clarifications from the government on what action it had taken on the matter after she received a letter from Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Delhis Jama Masjid. Ms Gandhi told Mr Bukhari that her party was committed to protecting the minority beliefs .

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had written a letter to the Prime Minister on December 12 regarding the issue. In his reply, Dr Singh had said the government sent a demarche along with OIC countries to the Danish government in this regard.