Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday spoke up for the first time on the spate of crimes by cow vigilante groups around the country, saying "Gau rakshaks [cow protectors] indulge in anti-social activities; cow vigilantism is just a ruse to hide their misdeeds." Modi was was addressing an audience at the day-long “town hall”, to mark the second anniversary of his MyGov initiative. He added that such self-proclaimed gau rakshaks make him angry, saying they "run shops" in the name of cow protection.
Modi said that cows in the country mainly die from eating plastic, and if gau rakshaks want to help, they should urge people to not throw garbage on the streets. "That would be great sewa [service]", he said. The prime minister also launched a new app for citizens to connect with the government, and said people must go beyond just voting if they want to truly live in a democracy.
Top government officials were present at the event and interacted with citizens on a host of policy issues through various panel discussions. Digital literacy was a major focus, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley talking about social media are a crucial tool for empowerment and accountability.
Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the day's proceedings, saying it was the age of digital democracy and Indian was destined to go digital. MyGov is the government's citizen engagement platform that was launched in 2014.
Prasad added that in the last two years, India saw tremendous hike in the number of mobile subscribers. He said, "Twelve crore mobile subscribers [were] added in two years. This is more than the population of France." He also urged the audience of more than 2,000 people to use technology to change the country for the better. MyGov was aimed at ensuring transparent governance, Prasad said, according to The Financial Express.
The town hall meeting had four sessions and panel discussions before the prime minister took the stage. The MyGov portal has 3.53 million registered users and 3.4 million comments in 590 discussion threads, according to NDTV.
Watch that section of Modi's speech here.