Prime Minister Narendra Modi today warned unscrupulous elements not to play with the lives of the poor by depositing illegal money into their accounts as stringent law against 'benami' transactions were in place to deal with them, as he asked the youth and other sections to move towards a "cashless society".
"Even now, some people think they can bring their black money, the money earned through corruption or the one which is unaccounted for, back into the system through illegal means.
"Unfortunately, they are misusing the poor for this purpose by misleading, luring or tempting them by putting money into their accounts," Modi said in his first 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme after he announced the demonetisation move on November 8.
"A very stringent law to deal with 'benami' transactions is being implemented, that will make such things (transactions) very difficult. Government does not want the people to face such difficulties," the Prime Minister said in a veiled warning.
"I would tell such (unscrupulous) people that to reform or not reform is your wish. Following the law or not is your wish - that the law will take care of. But please don't play with the life of the poor. Don't do anything due to which, when there is an investigation, the name of the poor comes on record and he gets into trouble because of you," he said.
However, he said that wrong practices have become so entrenched that some people were still not mending their ways. "These people are trying to find ways to again bring their ill gotten wealth, black money, benami and unaccounted cash back in to the system. They are scouting for illegal ways to save their black money and unfortunately even in this pursuit they are looking to misuse the poor."
The Prime Minister, however, congratulated the people for facing difficulties but supporting demonetisation to fight graft and black money.
Efforts are being made to mislead the people against demonetisation move, but they were making sacrifices for a better India, he said, appealing to the youth, "the true soldiers", to lead the battle against corruption.
Modi's statement came amid opposition attacks and their demand that he replies to their concerns over demonetisation in Parliament.
Modi said "our dream is for a cashless society. It is
correct that we cannot achieve it immediately. But India can definitely move towards a less-cash society. Once we start the move towards a less-cash society, the goal of a cashless society will not be far away."
He lauded the efforts of various sections of society including farmers, tea garden workers and traders who have faced difficulties because of this big decision, but made adjustments and are still strongly carrying forward with their work.
He said the demonetisation move was an opportunity for traders to move towards digital transactions and strengthen their businesses.
Noting the plight of the workers, the Prime Minister said they do not get paid the minimum wages and got less than what was written on paper or have to "give a cut to someone waiting outside". In this way, the workers are exploited.
Opening bank accounts will help solve this problem, he said, adding that the workers could then use their mobile apps to carry out monetary transactions.
He urged the youth to go to ten families and small businessmen and teach them how to use mobile technology to carry out digital transactions which, he said, were "safe and secure." Such drives should be carried out in schools, colleges, NCC and NSS, he said, adding that the "youths are agents of change."
He said the employees of the government, post offices and the banks were all working very hard and with dedication and observed that the struggle to fight the ills of 70 years would not be easy.
The Prime Minister also said that the sowing done by farmers this year was in fact more than what was done last year.
Referring to the development process in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the heads of panchayats, whom he had met a few weeks ago, were disturbed about the spate of burning down of schools in the Valley.
He said the high attendance of 95 per cent in the recent Board examinations in Jammu and Kashmir "shows the resolve of the youth there to strive for a better future.
Showering praises on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Modi said he has always batted for peace and harmony in the state.
"When there was tension between Sikhs and Hindus, it was Badal who played a role in ensuring unity between them," he said, adding Punjab survived and grew because of the efforts of the Chief Minister.
"During elections, people frequently change their parties. Congress is full of turncoats. But look at Badal, he never changed his party and at heart and he remained committed to Punjab," Modi said.
The Prime Minister further said that whenever he met Badal, the Akali patriarch always raised issues of farmers and poor.
Talking about LPG cylinder issue, Modi said 1.25 crore people have left gas subsidy. 1.50 crore gas connections have been allotted to poor families and in next three years five crore families would be given gas connection, he said.