Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said violence against Dalits should not still exist in the country 70 years after independence. While launching a “National Hub” for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in Ludhiana, Modi said the government will have to sharpen its focus on correcting the problems, PTI reported.

Modi said, “We know that owing to our societal anomalies...hearing out some incidents targeting our Dalit brothers even today, my head hangs in shame.” He added that the aspirations of Dalits “exceed those of other youth in the country”. “If they get an opportunity they will not lag behind in changing the fortunes of India.”

The National SC/SCT Hub is being set up under the Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and was announced in the Union Budget. Rs 490 crore has been set aside for it, and is aimed at helping Dalit groups access markets, financial schemes and industry know-how.

Modi’s comments in Ludhiana come three months before the Punjab Assembly elections. Nearly 32% of Punjab’s citizens are Dalits, The Times of India reported. Incidents of violence against Dalits have caused outrage throughout Modi’s tenure. Dalits have been agitating for months in his home state of Gujarat after four tanners from Una district were beaten up for skinning a dead cow.