NEW DELHI: Two senior BJP leaders including Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti today blamed Kasganj violence on pro-Pakistan and anti-national elements in the western Uttar Pradesh district, saying ABVP members were fired at by anti-national elements because they "could not tolerate Tiranga yatra".
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar said Hindus and Muslims had amicably lived in Kasganj. "But some pro-Pakistan people have come who are not accepting National flag. They only accept Pakistan flag and raise Pakistan zindabad slogans," Mr Katiyar said about the clashes in Kasganj town that took place on Friday, sparking a string of attacks to avenge 22-year-old Chandan Gupta's death.
"These people killed our worker.... They (Muslims) started it and the government is taking strict action against them. It needs to take stricter action," said the 63-year-old BJP parliamentarian, a Rajya Sabha member who has been a prominent figure in the campaign for a Ram temple at the Babri mosque site in Ayodhya.
Junior Food Processing Minister Niranjan Jyoti also made a similar point, talking about how the young men "enthusiastically" celebrating Republic Day were "sprayed with bullets" by anti-national elements. "This means anti-national forces could not tolerate Tiranga yatra... Such acts should not be tolerated," she said, adding in the same breath that "no one should politicise such acts".
Initial reports from Kasganj had indicated that a "Tiranga bike rally" to commemorate Republic Day on Friday passing through a Muslim-majority locality of the town was targeted by local residents. But videos that surfaced showed hundreds of young men, many holding saffron flags, standing at one of the streets.
Reports say they were asked by locals to move off, but they refused. In the video, they could be heard saying they won't change route. Slogans were being shouted, that said everyone will have to say "Vande Mataram" if they wish to live in India. The local administration hasn't detailed what triggered the first round of violence but a video accessed by NDTV has indicated that it wasn't such an open and shut case.
Raghvendra Vikkram Singh, the district magistrate of Bareilly 100 km from Kasganj, on Sunday appeared to blame the activists who took out the rally without permission from the authorities and provoking the clashes. But he had to take down his post after the BJP government made its displeasure known.
A firebrand Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader at the peak of the campaign of the Ram temple, Ms Jyoti hit national headlines in 2014 when she was caught on camera delivering a hate speech after her induction into the union council of ministers.
"People of Delhi have to decide if they want a government of Ramzaadon (followers of Ram) or a government of those who are illegitimate," she had then said, a statement for which the first-time member of Parliament was forced to apologise in both Houses.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik has called the Kasganj violence a "blot" on the state governed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that has struggled to restore peace in the district. In all, the police have arrested over 110 hooligans who have kept the embers of hatred burning over the past five days. Yesterday, the state government had also removed the district police chief Sunil Kumar Singh.