Prime Minister Narendra Modi met a delegation of Muslim leaders led by the chief imam of the All India Imam Organisation (AIIO) on Tuesday, and assured them that he will never speak communal language and will not allow communal divide in the country.
The AIIO chief imam, Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, on Wednesday spoke to the IBTimes India about the meeting and the PM's assurances to the community, which he said should have come a long time back.
"PM Modi assured us that we can knock on his door even at midnight and he will help us," imam Umer said. "He should have done this much earlier, so that a situation of tension between Hindus and Musims would not have risen," he said.
Imam Umer called the meeting, which took place during the Muslim festive season of Shab-e-barat, a positive one that will send a strong message to Pakistan.
"Pakistan was taking the opportunity to show that Muslims in India were being ostracised under PM Modi. But this meeting will send a strong message to Pakistan, and even to other Muslim nations where India's image was seen in a negative light," he said.
Imam Umer said he had already received calls of appreciation from Saudi Arabia and Qatar after the meeting, while several Muslim leaders in India also appreciated the gesture.
"This was PM Modi's first meeting with a Muslim delegation in a year, and this will help change India's image and will also give assurance and confidence to Muslims in India," the imam said.
The Prime Minister's office also issued a statement after the meeting stating that 'the Muslim community had rejected the divisive politics of vote-banks, and was interested in development'
"We are Indians. We have not come from Arab. Our ancestors have been in India," the imam said.
The Muslim delegation also lauded Modi for his initiative to push for an International Day of Yoga, but they urged him to keep it away from any religious identity.
"Yoga is not related to any religion but is Indian," Imam Umer said.
He said that the 30-member delegation also appreciated Modi's vision of Muslim youths with a Quran in one hand and a computer in the other'. He said that the PM assured the development of madrassas in the country.
Asked what the biggest takeaway from the meeting with PM Modi was, Imam Umer said, " Finally, the gap between him and us has disappeared. It should have have happened much earlier, but it is never too late," he said.
"PM Modi does Mann ki Baat, but we went to tell him our dil ki baat," the imam added.
Met a delegation of leaders from the Muslim Community. Talked about our initiatives for skill development, education & other priority areas.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 2, 2015