“Aurangzeb severed many heads, but he could not shake our faith,” Modi said during his address. His invocation of the 17th century Mughal emperor was not a mere blip.

Narendra Modi rose from his chair and walked briskly towards the podium to deliver another nighttime address to the nation. It was expected the speech would include a rare message of interfaith harmony in the country where religious tensions have risen under his rule, reports the AP.

The Indian prime minister was speaking from the historic Mughal-era Red Fort in New Delhi, and the event marked the 400th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru who is remembered for championing religious freedoms for all.

The occasion and the venue, in many ways, were appropriate.

Instead, Modi chose the April event to turn back the clock and remind people of India’s most despised Muslim ruler who has been dead for more than 300 years.

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