- Yogi Adityanath spoke about deaths during anti-CAA protests in UP
- "No one has died in police firing," the UP Chief Minister said
- Around 20 people were killed during violence in the state
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday sparked a huge controversy with his remarks in the state assembly on the deaths in December as protests against the citizenship law CAA spiralled into violence in parts of the state.
"Agar koi marne ke liye aa hi raha hai to woh zinda kahan se ho jaayega (If someone is coming with an intent to die, then how will the person remain alive?)," Yogi Adityanath said on some 20 deaths during the violence.
"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," the Chief Minister said in an address to the state assembly this afternoon.
Mr Adityanath also targeted those who have been protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the state over the past month; there have been continuous protests in Lucknow, Kanpur and Prayagraj against the law that fast-tracks the process of giving citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities from three neighbouring countries.
"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," said the saffron-wearing Chief Minister.
In an hour-long speech, the UP chief minister claimed his government was not against protestors but would come down heavily against those indulging in violence. "Those who try to undermine the law ... I am surprised... I have always said we will support any democratic protest. But if someone hides behind democracy to vitiate the atmosphere, if there is violence... woh jis bhasha main samjhega , us bhasha main samjhayenge (we will reply to them in their language)," said Mr Adityanath.
The Chief Minister's assertion of no deaths in the state due to police firing does not bear out on the ground. In west Uttar Pradesh's Bijnor district, the local police accepted on record that they opened fire after an agitation against the citizenship law turned violent. The police told NDTV that of the two protestors killed in the town, one of them was killed in police firing.
"When one of our constables moved ahead to take back the gun that was snatched, a member of the crowd opened fire at him. He had a narrow escape. In retaliatory, self-defence firing, the upadravi (rioter or a vandal) was shot at," Bijnor Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Tyagi had told NDTV. "His friends had taken him away. His name is Suleman and he died. One more protestor, Anis, died in firing from the crowd," the officer said.
In a hearing before the Allahabad High Court on Monday, the UP government said 22 people had died in the state in the anti-CAA violence. For rioting and destroying public properties, FIRs have been filed against 883 people in the state, of which 561 have been granted bail, the government told the court.
Public interest litigations that alleged police atrocities during protests against the CAA in UP will be taken up on March 18.
In the petitions, it was alleged that excessive force was used by the police on protestors resulting in several deaths and injuries. They alleged that police action was unjustified and in violation of the fundamental rights of protestors.
It was also alleged that the injured were not given proper medical aid and authorities were not providing post-mortem reports of those who died during the agitation to their family members.