Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday justified his government's crackdown on agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act, saying that the action has "shocked" every protester into silence.
"Every rioter is shocked. Every troublemaker is shocked. Everybody has fallen silent after seeing the strictness of the Yogi Adityanath government. The Chief Minister has announced that anybody who damages public property will have to pay up. Every violent protester will cry now because there is a Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh," read a tweet from his office.
It was hashtagged #TheGreat_CMYogi.
The tweet was a reference to the Yogi Adityanath government's decision to make protesters pay up for public property destroyed in Uttar Pradesh. As many as 21 people died in violent clashes that erupted in the state after the centre pushed the controversial bill through parliament earlier this month. Many of them died of gunshot injuries, although the government has denied opening fire at protesters with the exception of a single instance at Bijnore.
"People who resorted to violence and destroyed property will now have to compensate for the losses," another tweet read, terming it as a "shining example" of how violent protests should be handled.
Uttar Pradesh police said they have identified 498 people -- with as many as 148 from Meerut alone -- who will be asked to pay up for losses incurred. State officials had earlier said that steps to attach the properties of "vandals" have already been initiated in some districts, including Rampur. On Thursday, police officers confirmed that as many as 1,113 people have been arrested from places across the state in connection with the anti-CAA protests.
Another tweet from the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister's office claimed that peace has returned to the state.
Yogi Adityanath's assertion comes at a time when opposition parties have accused the police of using brutal force against those protesting the controversial law. "People have the right to protest in this country. Protests in other parts of the country were peaceful but the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister deliberately allowed the situation to go out of hand, creating a divide between people on the basis of religion," Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik told news agency ANI.
The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh police chief over complaints of rights violations in the state.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it discriminates against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.