In a claim that has sparked outrage on social media, the chief of the extremist Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Saturday said that the happiest Muslims in the world were found in India.
According to a report in Indian daily The Hindu, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat made the claim while addressing a group of supporters in Bhubaneswar city of the Indian state of Odisha.
India is facing severe international pressure after revoking the constitutional autonomy of occupied Kashmir on August 5 and putting millions of people under a military curfew in the occupied valley.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed fear of an impending genocide in the area, and warned that unless Indian PM Modi, who is an RSS member, lifts the curfew, Kashmir would remain a nuclear flash point.
Thousands have been arbitrarily detained in occupied Kashmir since August 5, and there are widespread allegations of torture and abuse against these detainees by Indian security forces.
However, Indian politicians and RSS members have avoided talking about Kashmir in political rallies, and even remained quiet as violent attacks on Muslims across India increase dramatically.
On Saturday, Bhagwat followed a similar pattern. Talking about the roots of the word Hindu, Bhagwat said that Hindu was not a religion or a language, but a culture that lived in India and accepted all other cultures.
“When any nation has deviated from the right path, it has come to us in search of truth,” he said, adding that when Jews were wandering, India was the only nation where they got shelter.
“The Parsis practise their religion freely only in India. The happiest Muslims are found in India. Why is it so? Because we are Hindus,” he said, noting that many in India were ashamed of proclaiming Hindu identity.