Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday courted controversy when he said that the casualties during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Uttar Pradesh had died due to "bullets from rioters" and not from the state police.
In an address to the state Assembly, Adityanath referred to the protests against the contentious law that turned violent on 19 and 20 December, and said, "No one has died from police bullets. All those who died have died of bullets from rioters. If someone goes to the street with the intent to shoot people, then either he dies or a cop dies."
"If someone is coming with an intent to die, then how will the person remain alive?" he added, referring to the 20 casualties during protests. "Upadravi, upadravi ki goli se marey hain," (the trouble-makers died from bullets of other trouble-makers)," he said.
However, on 24 December, the Bijnor Superintendent of Police (SP) reportedly accepted that one protester had died in police firing.
He was also quoted by NDTV as saying, "Azaadi (freedom) slogans are being raised. What 'azaadi'? Do we have to work towards Jinnah's (Mohammad Ali Jinnah) dream or do we have to work towards Gandhi's dream? The police should be praised for their work after the December violence. There were no riots in the state."
"A big conspiracy was revealed behind anti-CAA protests," he added.
He also said that a "terror funding" plan of the Popular Front of India (PFI). "Terror funding of the PFI, which is another name of SIMI, came to the fore. Any sympathy for them means, support to the PFI and SIMI. Those who engage in treason against the country, will have 'gumnam maut' (anonymous deaths)," he said.
During the hour-long speech in the Assembly, Adityanath also slammed the Opposition for criticising the government over issues of crime and women empowerment.
Without naming political rivals, the chief minister recalled how in the past the Samajwadi Party lawmakers "used to throw paper balls" at the podium during the governor's customary address to the House, thereby denigrating the exalted constitutional post. "Those (parties) who have been insulting the Constitution are today trying to preach us the Constitution. Better they keep off or they will be badly exposed," he stated.
In an apparent reference to former chief minister and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Adityanath recalled his "ladke, ladke hain (boys will be boys)" remarks and ridiculed his party for speaking about women empowerment. While opposing capital punishment for rape, Mulayam had sparked an outrage by saying "Boys will be boys... mistakes happen)."
He also cited the police firing on 'karsevaks' gathered in Ayodhya on 30 October, 1990, when Mulayam was the chief minister.
The chief minister then trained his guns at the Congress, referring to the infamous "tandoor case" in which former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma spent 23 years in the Tihar jail for killing his wife Naina Sahni and then trying to dispose of her body in a tandoor in 1995 on the roof of erstwhile 4-star hotel Ashok Yatri Niwas in New Delhi.
"These parties have the cheek to call themselves champions of women empowerment," he said.
The chief minister said when the governor spoke on 'Ram Rajya' in her address, it did not have any religious connotations.
"It takes time to cleanse the system, age-old garbage cannot be removed overnight," he said and listed the major achievements of his government during the past three years, especially in the areas of law and order, infrastructure, economy, agriculture, education and health.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2020 19:52:43 IST