Indian Muslims will live and die for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, maintaining that they will not dance to the tunes of terror outfit Al Qaeda.
"My understanding is that they are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional.
"Indian Muslims will live for India, they will die for India - they will not want anything bad for India," he told CNN in a rare media interview. He was asked about the head of Al Qaeda issuing a video and an appeal trying to create an Al Qaeda in India- South Asia saying he wants to free Muslims from the "oppression" they face in Kashmir and Gujarat.
He was also put a question about the remarkable phenomenon that out of the 170 million Muslims in India, there seemed to be no or very few members of Al Qaeda even though it is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "What is it that has made this community not as susceptible?"
Modi answered that first he was not the authority for doing a psychological and religious analysis on this. "But the question is whether or not humanity should be defended in the world. Whether or not believers in humanity should unite. This is a crisis against humanity, not a crisis against one country or one race. So we have to frame this as a fight between humanity and inhumanity, nothing else," he said.
Ahead of his visit to the US next week, Modi said it was possible for the US and India to develop a genuinely strategic alliance.
"I have a one word answer, and with great confidence I say - yes. Let me explain - there are many similarities between the US and India. If you look at the last few centuries, two things come to light - America has absorbed people from around the world, and there is an Indian in every part of the world. This characterises both the societies.
"Indians and Americans have co-existence in their natural temperament. Now yes, for sure, there have been ups and downs in our relationship in the last century. But from the end of the 20th century to the first decade of the 21st century, we have witnessed a big change. Our ties have deepened. India and the USA are bound together, by history and culture. These ties will deepen further," he said.
Asked if he feels there is a genuine desire from Washington to try and upgrade the relationship with India substantially, the Prime Minister said relations between India and America should not be seen within the limits of just Delhi and Washington.
"It is a much larger sphere. The good thing is that the mood of both Delhi and Washington is in harmony with this understanding. Both sides have played a role in this," he said.