Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath created a controversy on Wednesday in the Uttar Pradesh assembly by saying that not much could be done to save someone who was intent on dying.
His comments came in the context of the opposition parties raising the issue of 24 people dying in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in the state in December.
“Agar koi marne ke liye aa raha hai to woh zinda kahan se ho jayega [If someone is coming with the intention to die, then how will that person remain alive],” he said.
He also repeated an initial claim the state’s police has since walked away from — that none of the protestors died from police firing.
“When someone comes out on the street with the intention to shoot people, then he dies or the policeman dies,” the chief minister said, speaking on the motion of thanks to governor Anandiben Patel’s joint address to the legislative assembly and legislative council.
Leader of Samajwadi Party legislature party Ram Govind Chaudhary said, under democracy people have rights to organize protest and demonstration on the public issues. The Samajwadi Party has raised the issue of police atrocities on the protestors on the floor of the assembly. Instead of ordering inquiry and taking action against the policemen the Chief Minister is provoking them to suppress the agitation, he said.
Leader of Bahujan Samaj Party, Lalji Verma said, Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath statement against the anti-CAA protest on the floor of the legislative assembly was irresponsible. It clearly shows that state government is functioning in authoritarian manner. Rather than holding talks with the protestors the state government is threatening to suppress them. The Allahabad High Court has issued notice to the state government over the police atrocities as well, he said.
Alleging that people involved in violence during the anti-CAA protest enjoyed political protection, he said children of a senior opposition leader also joined the mob that raised anti-India slogans. His reference was to Samajwadi Party chief Akilesh Yadav’s daughter’s presence at an anti-CAA rally in Lucknow.
“Azaadi’ (freedom) slogans were raised by the protesters. The people know what ‘azaadi’ they want. The protesters wished to realise the dream of Jinnah whereas we have work to fulfil the dreams of Gandhi,” he said.
Hitting out at the Opposition in his two-hour-long speech, Adityanath said the state government was not against demonstrations as long as they are peaceful. He claimed the anti-CAA protests in the state were planned.
Asserting that the state has not witnessed communal violence since the BJP came to power in 2017, he said, “If anyone tries to vitiate the atmosphere then we will reply them to in their language [wah jis bhasa mein samjhega, us bhasha main samjhayenge].”
The Popular Front of India (PFI), an avatar of the banned SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) was funding the protest, he said, adding that the Opposition parties should not have sympathy for anti-national elements.
Adityanath said he failed to understand why there were protests against the CAA.
“What is wrong with the Act? The BJP has not drafted CAA, but the Act was framed in 1955 after the Nehru-Liyaqat pact. The Partition pained people and a large population suffered,” he said.
The act fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from three Muslim-majority countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It has provoked protests across the country and also been legally challenged. In the North-east the protests are from the fear that the act will legitimise the claims of outsiders. Elsewhere, people are protesting the law’s non-inclusive and non-secular nature. Some of the protests are also because of the suspicion that the government will use the CAA in tandem with a National Register of Citizens. An NRC in Assam left out 1.9 million people, both Hindus and Muslims, and in that state the CAA is seen as a way out for the Hindus left out of the list. The government has since clarified that there are no immediate plans for a nationwide NRC.
Earlier, the Opposition parties demanded a judicial probe by the sitting judge of the Supreme Court or high court into the violence during anti-CAA and alleged police atrocities on the protesters.
Leader of opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary (Samajwadi Party) said 24 innocent people were killed in police firing in various districts.
Anti-social elements joined the protesters and indulged in violence, he said, adding that sit-in protests have continued for over a month but no one from the state government held talks with the protesters.
Public interest litigation petitions that alleged police atrocities during the anti- CAA protests will be taken up in the Allahabad high court on March 18.
In a hearing on February 17, the state government told the high court that 22 people died during the anti-CAA violence in the state. FIRs were lodged against 883 people on the charge of arson and destroying public property.
The state government provided the figures to a high court bench comprising chief justice Govind Mathur and justice Siddhartha Varma hearing a bunch of petitions against police action during the anti-CAA protests.