In his first remarks after a Muslim man died after being attacked by a mob in Jharkhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday that he was saddened by the incident and the guilty must be severely punished.
Arguing that it was “our constitutional responsibility to ensure the safety of every citizen of the country”, Modi said all incidents of violence, whether in Jharkhand, West Bengal or Kerala, should be treated with the same yardstick and law should take its course.
Addressing Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister also described the death of over 130 children this month from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar as a matter of “shame”. He said it is the “biggest failure” of seven decades that the outbreak of the disease continues to kill even many years after independence.
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Speaking in the Upper House for the first time after winning a second term, the Prime Minister also continued his attack on the Congress, arguing that the party has become so arrogant that it was not willing to accept the mandate of the people and is continuing to raise doubts on EVMs.
He also asked the Opposition not to obstruct important legislation in Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority, arguing that the verdict of the people should not be throttled in the House.
Invoking Jharkhand’s pride, Modi cautioned against labelling the state as a hub of mob violence. Assembly elections are due in Jharkhand later this year. Modi said: “It was said in the House that Jharkhand has become a hub of mob lynching and mob violence. The murder of a young man has saddened us all. I am also saddened. And we all should be. The culprits should be given stern punishment.”
“But is it fair to single out and blame Jharkhand alone?… Those who have done such things should be isolated and should be dealt with sternly as per law. But putting everyone in the dock…you can do politics over such things… but the situation will not improve.”
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Arguing that “nobody has the right to defame the entire state of Jharkhand,” he said “they are also our citizens…If a crime takes place, the right way is to deal with it as per law and according to the judicial system. The Constitution, law and systems are completely equipped to deal with such incidents. And the way out is only the legal and judicial process. And for that, we should take every step we can and we should not back off.”
Underscoring that attempts to distinguish between “your terrorism and my terrorism” had caused damage across the world, he said that “in cases of violence too, whether it happens in Jharkhand or West Bengal or Kerala…our yardstick should be the same. Then only will we be able to stop the violence. Only then, those who indulge in violence will realise that the country is one on this issue…that all the political parties have the same thinking on this and such things will not be tolerated.”
“We all should fulfil that responsibility. There will be other occasions to score political points. I believe it is our constitutional responsibility to ensure that security of every citizen of the country. It is also our sensitive responsibility to humanity which we cannot ignore.”
Taking a dig at the Congress, particularly Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who while initiating the debate on Monday had mocked Modi’s “New India” slogan saying he wants the “old India” back as it had no hatred, anger and lynchings, Modi said Azad suffered from blurred vision because he looks at things with a political lens.
He asked everyone to see things not through the lens of politics arguing that they will be able to see a bright future without political spectacles. Referring to Azad, he then recited a couplet by Mirza Ghalib. “Azad saab likes such things…Ta umr Ghalib yeh bhool karta raha, dhool chehre par thi, aina saaf karta raha.”
On AES deaths in Bihar, the PM said: “It is a matter of pain and shame for all of us that….we are in such a situation in the modern age. And I believe this is one of our biggest failures in the last seven decades, both as a society and government, and we should take in seriously.”
He said he had rushed the Union Health Minister to Bihar to take stock of the situation and that argued his government is working with the Bihar Government to control the situation.