Former Prime Minister and Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh on Friday joined the chorus against the 'growing intolerance' in the nation.

Speaking at the inauguration of the national conference on 'No peace without freedom, no freedom without peace', Dr. Singh said that he was deeply saddened by the rampant assault on thinkers and expressed deep concern over the recent incidents of 'blatant violation of right to freedom of thought speech and expression'.

ANI reports that he went on to assert that 'suppression' due to caste or creed cannot be accepted at any cost. "All right thinking people have condemned this recent assault on nationhood. Murder of thinkers can't be justified and suppression of dissent can't be allowed. Religion could never become the basis for public policy and should not be imposed on anyone. Any erosion of diversity will weaken our nation. Peace is important for economic growth and core values of the Indian republic are under threat," ANI reported him as saying.

Echoing RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan who recently said it was imperative to keep India as an 'open society',  Dr. Singh further said the prerequisite for innovation, entrepreneurship and competition is an 'open society and a liberal polity '.

"Suppression of dissent or free speech poses a grave danger for economic development. There can be no free market without freedom," he said.

Dr. Singh's comments come in the wake of snowballing protests by writers, artists, film-makers, scientists and historians over the rise in violence against thinkers, minorities, women and Dalits under the BJP regime, thanks to elements professing the Hindutva ideology.

Some days ago, Dr Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and a host of others had marched to Rashtrapathi Bhavan to express their concern over the growing intolerance in the nation towards any form of freedom of expression or dissent.