New Delhi: Under attack over atrocities against Dalits, government on Thursday said the states should take strict action against anti-social elements indulging in activities like cow protection as it pitched for a united fight against the "perverted mindset".
"Some anti-social elements are indulging in nefarious activites in the name of cow protection...I appeal to all state governments to take strict possible action against them," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha while replying to a discussion on atrocities on Dalits.
"To deal with 'vikrut manasikta' (perverted mindset) of those who resort to such atrocities is a big challenge," he said.
The discussion was marred by acrimony and walkout by Congress and the Left members who alleged that the incidents of atrocities against Dalits have increased since the NDA came to power two years back.
Singh insisted that the incidents against Dalits have come down since the Modi government took over and reeled out statistics to buttress the point.
He said the number of registered cases of atrocities against Dalits were 39,346 in 2013, they went up to 40,300 in 2014 and thereafter came down to 38,564 in 2015.
"We have to accept the truth that the atrocities against Dalits are going on. We have to stop it and this is a challenge for all of us," the Home Minister said while regretting that the House had to discuss the issue even 70 years after Independence.
Countering the opposition charge of not doing enough for the Dalits, he said "what you could not do in 55 years, our government did in last two years".
To questions as to why Modi did not speak on the Dalit atrocities for so long, he asked the opposition to spell out if earlier Prime Ministers since 1947 used to speak on each and every issue.
"The Prime Minister may speak or may not speak, but his aura should be such that action is taken against the perpetrators," Singh said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also intervened in the debate which lasted for six hours.
"You did everything possible to humiliate B R Ambedkar, the messiah of Dalits", Paswan, a Dalit leader, told Congress MPs who protested vociferously.