Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Bhognadih: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused the "Congress and its friends" of spreading lies over the new citizenship law, and dared them to declare they will accord Indian nationality to all Pakistanis.

He also challenged them to re-introduce Article 370 in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir and scrap the law against instant Triple Talaq.

As campuses across the country erupted in protests over police action at Jamia Millia Islamia, the prime minister asked students to try and see whether they were not being made accomplices in a "conspiracy" where "urban naxals" and others were using their "shoulders to fire" to serve their own interests.

Addressing an election rally in Jharkhand, Modi sought to assuage concerns of Indians apprehensive about getting stripped of their citizenship.

"Congress is spreading lies, creating an atmosphere of fear for Muslims over the new law. Citizenship (Amendment) Act neither takes away the rights of Indian citizens nor harms them in any manner," he told an election rally here.

The prime minister asked his political opponents to stop "dirty politics" and not to destroy the country's social fabric.

"I give an open challenge to Congress and its friends from this land of the brave...If they have courage, let them openly announce that they are ready to give Indian citizenship to all Pakistanis.

"If they (the opposition) have courage, they should announce article 370 will be restored in Jammu and Kashmir...

Triple Talaq will be back," he said.

The prime minister alleged it was because of the "vote bank politics" of the Congress that "lakhs of infiltrators" had made India their home.

Modi sought to reach out to the agitating students, saying his government was open to debate and was permissive of democratic protests if it has done any wrong.

He said the citizenship law was enacted for religious minorities of three nations--Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan--who fled their countries because of religious persecution.

"It's for people who have fled three countries due to atrocities on account of their religious faith. It's for those who are living in miserable conditions and cannot go back," he said.

Modi said he wanted to know how the new citizenship law had encroached upon the rights of Indian Muslims, or for that matter, any citizen of the country.

The prime minister said the Congress-led opposition was unable to shed its "hatred of Modi".

Modi credited his government for paving the way for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, and accused the Congress of having created obstacles to thwart attempts at resolution of the vexed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

"Was there any tension? Was there any riot? Was not the issue resolved peacefully?" he asked the indulgent audience which roared in approval.

"Their stomach aches when I resolve things peacefully," the prime minister said.

He said the Constitution prepared by B R Ambedkar was the "only holy scripture" for his government.

He also enumerated a number of welfare schemes taken up by the "double-engine" BJP governments at the Centre and in Jharkhand for the state's welfare.