Parliamentary Affair Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday hit out at US Ambassador Richard Verma for his remarks advocating "free speech" in universities and colleges in the backdrop of the JNU row.
Naidu asked Lok Sabha whether the US would “tolerate if any campus in its soil held an event to observe Osama bin Laden martyrdom anniversary.” He made his comments without taking any name.
“India cannot tolerate such activities in our universities,” he said adding that “we cannot let foreign ideologies and foreign forces inspire and misled our students.”
Naidu's response has come in the light of Verma's recent comments on events in connection with JNU row.
Verma has twice made comments in as many days, that diversity of "thought and free speech" was one of India's great hallmarks which will "propel" it forward.
"It will be hard to find a country more diverse than India. That is a great attribute of this country. It is what will propel India forward in the next century. That's also a part of both of our democracies, particularly on college campuses and it is something both of our countries frankly have celebrated and welcomed over years and over decades and these are called the laboratories of thoughts,” Verma responded on JNU row.
"Ultimately this is a question for Indian society to resolve. It is one of the great hallmarks of India and US to have this diversity of thought and diversity of speech and the fact is we are constitutional democracies, where speech is a central tenet of what we hold dear," he added.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup, meanwhile, also downplayed Verma's observations.
"Where is the doubt that we do not have diversity on our campuses or the free thought in India is curtailed in any way. Very vigorous debate that we have seen in Parliament itself is an example of diversity of thought and opinion in India," Swarup said.