I used the word Hindi not Hindu, says Najma
Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla on Friday attempted to quash the controversy triggered by her remark that all citizens could be called Hindu, clarifying that her reference was to the historic term “Hindi’’ which, she said, had been used for centuries as an identity of nationality.
Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Heptulla said: “I have not spoken about Hindu. All I am saying is that since 2000 years, Hindustan is called Hind in Arabic and those living here are called Hindi. Anything beyond the Hindu Kush mountains and on this side of the Sindh river is Hind. It is a geographical indication and a historical name. People have used it in music and in poems. Mohammad Iqbal has used it in our national song [Hindi hai hum, watan hai Hindustan hamara].”
Ms. Heptulla’s remark triggered a wave of protest with the Opposition terming it as “unfortunate.”
But would Muslims like to be called Hindi? “Why not? When they go for Haj to Saudi Arabia they are called Hindi. In Europe their identity is Indian. In our country our nationality is Indian, Hindustani or Bharatiya. Muslims or Christians in Bharat will be called Bharatiya. There is no need to create a controversy.”
Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said every citizen of the country is a “Bharatiya” and not Hindu.
The BJP said the controversy should be over after Ms. Heptulla’s clarification.