- PM Modi said protesters damaged property belonging to future generations
- He praised the Uttar Pradesh police's role in quelling violent protests
- State witnessed bloody clashes amid Citizenship Act row, with 15 killed
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condemned the destruction of public property during violent agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act over the last few weeks, asking protesters to introspect if their actions have been "good or not".
"I want to ask people who resorted to violence in Uttar Pradesh to sit at home and ask themselves whether what they did is good or not. They destroyed buses and public property that belongs to the future generation," he said at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical University in Lucknow.
The Prime Minister asked the protesters to keep in mind that everybody in the country is entitled to a secure environment. "To get a safe environment is our right, and it is our duty to respect the law-and-order machinery that is responsible for our security. I want to tell every resident of Uttar Pradesh that after Independence, we only insisted on our rights. But the time has come to also put emphasis on our duties," he said, praising the Uttar Pradesh police for doing a "good job".
Uttar Pradesh witnessed some of the bloodiest clashes across the country after the parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, with 15 people being killed across the state so far. After critics accused the state police of using lethal force to quell agitations, officers have now admitted to shooting at protesters.
In his address, PM Modi cited how his government had resolved several contentious issues in a peaceful manner. "The Ram Janmabhoomi issue was resolved peacefully. Article 370 was an old disease, and it was our responsibility to resolve it," he said, referring to the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status earlier this year.
"We should always remember our rights and obligations. While good and accessible education is our right, we also have an obligation to respect our teachers and safeguard the security of our educational instutions," PM Modi said, in what was viewed as a critique of ongoing agitations against the controversial law in universities across the country. The agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act had gone nationwide after a protest at Delhi's Jamia Millia University ended in a clash with the police.
PM Modi had earlier tweeted out a tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one of his predecessors, on the latter's 95th birth anniversary. "Many good things can be said about the life of Atalji... He knew when to speak and when to stay silent. That's amazing power," PM Modi said, adding that "his silence held more power than his words".
Earlier in the day, PM Modi had unveiled a 25-foot statue of Mr Vajpayee at Lucknow's Lok Bhawan.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.