‘Jharkhand lynching pained me, guilty must be severely punished’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said had Sardar Patel been first PM of the India, there would not have been any Jammu and Kashmir problem and asserted that lynching of a Muslim youth in Jharkhand has pained him and demanded that the guilty must be severely punished, but stressed that all incidents of violence in the country, whether in Jharkhand, West Bengal or Kerala, should be treated the same and law should take its course.
Addressing Rajya Sabha, he also spoke on the death of over 130 children this month from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) or 'brain fever' in Bihar, describing it as a matter of "shame" and the "biggest failure" of seven decades that outbreak of such disease continues to kill even after so many years of independence.
In his over an hour long reply to the debate on Motion of Thanks to President's address, Modi who received flak from the opposition over his 'silence' on the lynching incident in BJP-ruled Jharkhand, said "security of every citizen is our constitutional duty".
"The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too. Guilty should get severest punishment but for this the entire state has been pronounced guilty and everyone put in dock, which is not right," he said.
A Muslim youth, accused of stealing a motorcycle, was beaten up by a mob and a video showed that he was purportedly made to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' and 'Jai Hanuman' in the Saraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand. He later died.
The Prime Minister said some people in Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. "Is this fair? Why are they insulting a state."
"None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand," he said and referred to violence in states ruled by opposition parties.
"All kinds of violence whether in Jharkhand or West Bengal or Kerala should be treated as same and law should take its course," he said.
On the death of children in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar where BJP and its ally JDU are in power, he said the Centre is extending all help to the state to fight the problem.
"In modern times, such a situation is a matter of pain as well as shame for all of us," he said. "This is the biggest failure in last seven decades and we should take it seriously."
Taking a jibe at Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, he said during the debate some people demanded a return to 'Old India' instead of the 'New India' where technology is being used to ease lives and end corruption.
"Do they want an Old India where Cabinet decision is torn in a press conference, where Navy assets are used for picnic, where scams are order of the day, where 'tukde-tukde' (separatist) gang gets support of leaders, where middlemen are required for railway tickets, MP's letter is needed for gas connection, where interviews are held for low-level jobs such as peon in a government department and there is rampant inspector raj," he said.
The citizen of the country are not willing to go back to the old India, he said adding the 'new India' is destined to come.
Modi said while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a Congress leader, it is his party's belief that had he been the first prime minister of the country, there would not have been any J&K problem.
Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said Patel was their party leader and they should at least once go to the Statue of Unity in Gujarat to pay homage.