New Delhi: Minorities affairs minister Najma Heptullah who has created a huge political outcry after she was quoted as saying that she saw nothing wrong with the RSS theory that all Indians can be called Hindus, has now clarified to say that she meant ‘Hindi’ and not ‘Hindu’.
In an interview with the Hindustan Times newspaper, Heptullah, who has remained silent on the issue so far, was quoted as saying that the idea of Indians being ‘Hindus’ had ‘evolved in history’.
“Anything beyond the Hindu Kush mountains and on this side of the Sindh river is Hind. In Persian, they call it Hindustani… where the people of India live. The word Hindu originally referred to the national identity of people who live in this land. I look at it very rationally. One should not forget history”, the report quoted her as saying.
However Heptullah clarified her remarks in comments to the media.
“I had said, we are Indians. That is our nationality. I said ‘Hindi’ which is an Arabic word. I did not say ‘Hindu'”, she said adding “Whatever I said, was about me. My focus is on development and backwardness. I said Hindi. I stand by fact that we are all Indians”.
The comments by Heptuallah, coming on the back of what is being seen as a BJP effort to legitimize the much decried RSS remark that all Indians were culturally Hindus, were met with massive outcry. Congress spokesman Manish Tewari asked her to go read the constitution again, saying that it specifically referred to citizens of the country as ‘Indians’.
The comment by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was, “The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture.