Secular fabric will not be disturbed, PM assures Staines


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday assured Gladys Staines, widow of Australian missionary Graham Staines who was killed nine years ago, that his government would take steps to ensure that the secular fabric of the country was not disturbed.

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Replying to Staines’ letter expressing concern over the increasing communal violence in Orissa, Manmohan Singh said: “I assure you that the government will take all necessary steps to safeguard the fundamental rights and liberties of all sections of our society and protect their religious freedoms as enshrined in the constitution.

“Please be assured that we will not tolerate any efforts aimed at disturbing the communal harmony or secular fabric of our country,” the prime minister added in his letter to Staines.

Gladys Staines has stayed on in the state even after the brutal killing of her husband and two sons who were burnt alive while sleeping in their jeep in Keonjhar district on Jan 23, 1999.

The prime minister said he had spoken to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik about the situation in the state and assured Staines that the central government was taking steps to ensure “restoration of normalcy” and peace to the affected areas.

Orissa’s Kandhamal district has been tense since Christmas Eve with Hindus and Christians clashing repeatedly. At least five people have died and hundreds of houses torched in the last few days.