- Ravi Shankar Prasad says protesters "suppressing peaceful majority"
- Says anti-CAA protests giving platform to "Tukde Tukde Gang"
- Arvind Kejriwal says BJP leaders should resolve issues, end roadblock
Accusing protesters at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh of trying to suppress the views of a "peaceful majority" over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for "standing with the Tukde Tukde Gang".
"Shaheen Bagh is emerging as a textbook case of a few hundred people seeking to suppress the peaceful majority. This is the true face of Shaheen Bagh and uncovering it in front of the country is very important. Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are both silent on this issue," he said.
"It is offering platform to 'Tukde Tukde Gang' elements under the garb of opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act. This protest is not just a protest against CAA it is a protest against Modi," Mr Prasad said.
For more than a month, over 200 women have been joined by hundreds of others every day at South East Delhi's Shaheen Bagh at a sit-in protest against the CAA which promises citizenship to only non-Muslim refugees from three neighbouring countries.
Besides making religion a test of citizenship for the first time in violation of the constitution, the CAA along with the planned National Register of Citizens (NRC) can be used to target Muslims who are unable to prove their lineage, critics say.
The government, however, says the law is necessary to help those who have faced religious persecution and will not endanger the citizenship of any Indian.
"The millions who are silent but are facing trouble because of these protests also have their right to freedom of speech and expression. (Arvind) Kejriwal and (Deputy Chief Minister) Manish Sisodia stand with Shaheen Bagh protesters," Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a news conference amid a high-pitched campaign for next month's Delhi assembly elections.
Responding to the charges, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, "Many people are facing difficulties because of the Shaheen Bagh protest.The BJP does not want the road to open, it is indulging in dirty politics instead. BJP leaders should immediately go to Shaheen Bagh to hold discussions and the get the road opened."
Ravi Shankar Prasad's statement had echoed tweets earlier in the day by BJP chief JP Nadda who had accused Mr Kejriwal of "supporting those who want to break India" by not giving police the permission to prosecute former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others in a sedition case.
While BJP leaders have frequently accused Kanhaiya Kumar and others of raising anti-India slogans at an event in Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2016, the police have not yet presented evidence to back this claim in court. Video clips of the incident aired by certain news networks were later found to have been fabricated.
Dubbing those accused of raising the slogans as "Tukde Tukde Gang", the BJP has often made the sedition case filed against Mr Kumar and others an election issue. To a Right To Information (RTI) query filed by an activist, the Union Home Ministry this month said it had no information about the so-called group.