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Modi urges tolerance on Kashmir remarks at rally

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Srinagar, India — Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit a Hindu shrine in the town of Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, where he will personally give a cash handout to village communities before heading to Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal.

His speech on Monday was in response to a lynching last month of five Muslim men in Uttar Pradesh by a group of Hindu villagers, an attack that has shaken one of India’s most diverse states and threatened to rekindle communal tensions.

In his speech, Mr. Modi avoided referring to the lynching in Uttar Pradesh, but urged Hindus to be vigilant against diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya, which have caused endemic outbreaks across the country.

He also referred to violence that has broken out in parts of Kashmir in recent weeks, including firing on a young man who was apparently running to the aid of two women being attacked by a mob.

In one of the most violent scenes since the 2014 outbreak of militant violence in Kashmir, a 35-year-old computer engineer, Abdul Ghani Bhat, was shot dead in the town of Pulwama last month. A video has since emerged of a mob beating a woman with sticks for allegedly being a child trafficker.

Mr. Modi urged Hindus to remain vigilant against dengue, malaria and chikungunya, diseases that Mr. Bhat’s neighbors have suffered from in the aftermath of the lynching.

In Mr. Modi’s speech on Monday, he gave an emotional — and at times brutal — plea for religious harmony and dialogue, calling for peace in the name of love.

“I ask you to live with love in the name of brotherhood, regardless of caste and religion,” he said. “Brotherhood within every country is the key to maintaining tranquility and peace.”

“If anything happens, no matter who is responsible for it, our state and country will be the first to stand against it,” he added.

Analysts said the attack on Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar by its army was a renewed warning by Mr. Modi to the government of President Aung San Suu Kyi about the peril posed by those who make a living off “ethnic cleansing.”

Mr. Modi’s remarks on Monday came as the authorities in Kerala prepared to celebrate a day of mourning on Tuesday for a leading politician and human rights activist, M.M. Mani, who was the most prominent social conservative of that region’s Hindu nationalist forces, before entering politics.

The prime minister’s address appeared intended to underscore his effort to mobilize the country on the issues of communal harmony and climate change, and to promote Hindu-Muslim understanding of both causes.

In his speech, Mr. Modi took a swipe at the Indian intelligentsia, including writers and scholars, who have been identified by some commentators here as extremists in the Hindu-Muslim debate.

“Such people even though it is revealed in the scriptures that the core of our differences lies in our beliefs that our misfortunes are due to our ignorance, have become irresponsible and anti-national,” he said.

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