Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took a gendered swipe at women-led agitations against the citizenship law in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, claiming men had pushed women and children to spend winter nights at sit-in protests while they slept at home. Addressing a pro-citizenship law rally in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur today, the Chief Minister accused protesters, who have braved police brutality, government backlash and the weather to voice their dissent against the law, of lacking courage.
"These people (referring to male anti-citizenship law protesters) do not have the courage to participate in the protests themselves... what have they done? They started making the women of their houses sit at roads. The children have been made to sit too...," the Chief Minister claimed.
"It is a big crime that the men are sleeping under the quilt while women have been pushed forward... it is shameful. They know that if they indulge in vandalism, their property will be seized," he continued, a reference to his government having claimed Rs 6 lakh in "damages" from prominent members of the Muslim community in Bulandshahr district.
The "damages" were claimed amid multiple allegations of police vandalism and brutality.
Chief Minister Adityanath's attack also included one on opposition parties - he accused the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Left of "pushing women forward".
"The tactic of pushing women forward... those who do not know what the CAA is are staging sit-ins... they (the opposition) will say the men of the house have become incompetent they are want women to go. For them, the country is not important," he claimed, echoing statements made yesterday by Home Minister Amit Shah.
Visuals of the Shaheen Bagh protests, which have gone on for nearly 40 days now in a display of spirit and conviction, show that while women have taken the lead, male protesters have participated as well.
Those who could not, such as Khalid Jamal Siddiqui, 52, who told NDTV he "couldn't contribute more because I have to go for my job every day", called on others to "not discourage them".
Men have also backed the women of Shaheen Bagh in more ways than one.
Earlier this week the thousands of women gathered for their shift received unexpected company - a group of Sikh men who had come all the way from Punjab - to feed their fellow protesters.
The UP government has met with heavy criticism for its brutal crackdown on peaceful protests against the citizenship law; at least 21 have died during protests across different districts in the last one month - the highest in the country.
On Tuesday dozens of women who participated in a peaceful sit-in protest at Lucknow's iconic Clock Tower, inspired by the Shaheen Bagh protest, were forcibly dispersed and accused of "rioting" and "unlawful assembly".
Last month, while trying to control a students' march from Aligarh Muslim University, disturbing visuals showed cops smashing bikes and firing tear gas shells.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, which makes religion the test of citizenship for the first time, has been defended by the government as a legislation that will help non-Muslim refugees fleeing religious persecution from three Muslim-dominated countries. Critics, however, say it discriminates against Muslims and violates secular tenets of the Constitution.
With input from PTI