Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a hard-hitting message today, calling for the protection of Dalits and punishment for fake cow protectors -- issues over which his party, the BJP, has been facing opposition fire.
- In first visit to Telangana, PM Modi says, 'Stop politics over Dalits'.
- 'Fake cow protectors dividing nation, punish them,' he said in Medak
- Cow vigilantes have been accused of several attacks on Dalits recently
During his first visit to Telangana, he asked people to stop politics over Dalits, asking people to protect Dalits and other exploited sections. "If you have a problem, if you feel like attacking someone, attack me, not my Dalit brothers. If you want to shoot anyone, shoot me, not my Dalit brothers," he declared.
"What is the reason we torture our Dalit brothers? What right do you have? The section which has suffered for centuries, will you force them to suffer more?" he further said.
The Prime Minister was speaking in Hyderabad, the home of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide on January 17, triggering an agitation at the University which spread to other campuses in the country.
Earlier, at Medak, he made some scathing comments about "fake cow protectors" saying they were "dividing the nation and should be isolated and punished".
"Be wary of 'nakli' (fake) gau rakshaks, they have nothing to do with cow. Governments should crack down on them," PM Modi said at a function to lay water pipes in Medak's Gajwel.
BJP legislator Raja Singh - who had controversially commented that Dalits flogged in Una would have had to "face such consequences" if they indulged in cow slaughter - was kept out of the scene. While all state BJP leaders, MPs, legislators, and Union ministers shared the stage with PM Modi in Hyderabad's LB Stadium, Mr Singh was seated with the audience.
"The Prime Minister has made the party's stand clear and I humbly accept it,'' Mr Singh said.
This was the second time in two days the Prime Minister has called cow vigilantes to order. Yesterday, he delivered a blistering condemnation of cow protectors, saying they make him "so angry".
Cow vigilantes have been blamed for some of the most outrageous incidents over the recent months, including the stripping and flogging of four Dalit men in Gujarat's Una.
The incident provoked a huge protest by Dalits in Gujarat, a BJP bastion where opposition was quick to gain mileage, alleging that the ruling party was encouraging, or ignoring, the atrocities on the underprivileged.