Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused Congress and "Urban Naxals" of spreading rumours and misleading and inciting people over the citizenship act during a massive rally in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan amid countrywide protests over the new legislation.
The Prime Minister also backed the police force, which has been charged with brutality and firing at agitators during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests have spread across the country and dozens of protesters have died in police action.
The highest number of deaths have been reported from Uttar Pradesh in protests that have taken place in the aftermath of this month's passage of CAA, which seeks to fast-track the grant of Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsi in the Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The death toll has risen to 17 in the state with the fatalities in Saturday's unrest and the overnight deaths of six people hurt in clashes on Friday. Many of them died of bullet injuries.
"I want to ask them when we authorised the unauthorised colonies, did we ask anyone about their religion? Did we ask which political party do they support? Did we ask for documents from 1970,1980?" Modi questioned while speaking at the 'Aabhar Rally'.
"Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians all befitted. Everyone who lives here was benefitted. Why did we do this? Because we live for the love of the country. We are dedicated to the mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'," he said.
"Today those people who are misleading Muslims in the name of papers and certificates, they should remember that we did not put restrictions in terms of paper while choosing beneficiaries of schemes for the betterment of the poor," he continued.
As he questioned the opposition on its stance on the citizenship act, he asked the youth to educate themselves about the legislation.
"Congress, its friends and some urban Naxals are spreading rumours that all Muslims will be sent to detention centres... Respect your education, read what is the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC. You are educated," he said.
The citizenship act will only apply to those people who have been living in India for several years and no new refugee will benefit from it, the Prime Minister said.
"The Citizenship Amendment Act is not to take away anyone's citizenship but it is to give citizenship to people," PM Modi said.
He had earlier launched a blistering attack on the present dispensation and "dishonest" opposition, saying the Bharatiya Janata Party does not ignore people's problems like the previous governments did in Delhi.
"Even after several decades of Independence, a large section of the population in Delhi had to face fear, uncertainty, deceit and false electoral promises. Illegal, sealing, bulldozer and a cut-off date—the life of a large population in Delhi was confined around these words," Modi said.
"Millions of people in Delhi have had to bear frauds, cheats, and fake political promises over several decades in the post-Independence era," he said.
As the Prime Minister talked about regularising unauthorised colonies to expanding the Metro connections, he also attacked the ruling Aam Aadmi Party government over issues faced by Delhi's residents.
"Had the Delhi govt not politicised the Phase 4 project of Delhi Metro, its work would have started much earlier. That is why I say that those who do politics in your name, never understood your pain, they never intended to do that," he said as the crowd cheered on.
Several BJP leaders including Union ministers Harsh Vardhan and Hardeep Puri, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, Hansraj Hans, Vijay Goel, Meenakshi Lekhi, were also present.
This is Modi's first election rally in Delhi since he won a massive mandate for a second term in Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.
The Prime Minister's rally comes on the heels of widespread protests over the amended citizenship law that grants citizenship to non-Muslims who escaped to India fearing religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
In a statement, senior BJP leader Vijay Goel said the rally is being organised to thank the Prime Minister for giving ownership rights to 40 lakh residents of 1731 unauthorised colonies.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling party in the national capital, had already launched its campaign with 'Acchhe beete paanch saal, lage raho Kejriwal' slogan on Friday.
The Delhi polls will be held early next year.