Life Threats, Insults, Promises of Revenge: How BJP Leaders Reacted to Anti-CAA Protests

Across positions in the party, a common refrain was the promise of killing protesters.

New Delhi: With the country witnessing a chain of protests in the aftermath of the Citizenship Amendment Bill solidifying into the Citizenship Amendment Act, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been decidedly on the backfoot.

In dealing with the widespread outburst of anger, party leaders across a range of influence have let out reactions that range from vilifying to outright heinous. The protests which have been snowballing into integrated events all over the country have met with severe brutality by state police, especially in Delhi, Mangaluru and Uttar Pradesh.

Several BJP leaders have taken the path of criticising dissent by resorting to bizarre and politically incorrect language. Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is one among many.

“Those who are opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act are mentally affected. Such people should get medical treatment,” was the complete statement that Maurya made.

Also read: ‘Literate Need to Be Educated’: BJP Reacts to Satya Nadella’s CAA Comments

BJP MP Soumitra Khan who defected to the party from the Trinamool Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections referred to Kolkata-based intellectuals and personalities protesting against the CAA as “Mamata Banerjee’s dogs”.

Khan said, “People who consider themselves as intellectuals don’t speak up during Park Street and Kamduni incidents. They are nothing but Mamata Banerjee’s dogs. These dogs of Mamata Banerjee are now protesting against the CAA. They have either not read the law or staging a drama despite knowing it. They cannot be described as anything other than her dogs. They are dogs of West Bengal.”

West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh can be considered a league unto himself. Not only has Ghosh labelled those opposed to the CAA as supporters of ‘lungi terrorists‘, he very recently threatened to shoot and kill those involved in damaging public property “like in Uttar Pradesh and Assam”.

Ghosh said, “Properties have been damaged. Whose money is this? This is my money, this is your money. They have set trains on fire, whose money have they destroyed? Still, not one bullet has been fired. There was neither any lathi-charge nor any FIR registered. Police did not even arrest anyone,”

“Is it the father’s property of those who are setting the public property on fire? How can they destroy government property built on taxpayers’ money!” he added.

Ghosh then said the words that have earned him quite the infamy, “In Assam and Uttar Pradesh, our government has shot these protesters like dogs. They were arrested and cases were also filed against them.”

In a similar vein, BJP leader Raghuraj Singh said that people raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath “will be buried alive”. Singh made the threat on Sunday while addressing a rally in Aligarh to create awareness about the CAA.

Also read: Can Dilip Ghosh’s Foul Rhetoric Make Inroads With Bengal’s Bhadralok Gentry?

Gujarat assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi who asked Congress MLA Imran Khedawala to maintain decorum in the House said “you are not in Pakistan” during a discussion on a resolution supporting the CAA on Friday. During the debate, Congress’ Khedawala, first-time MLA from Jamalpur-Khadia seat in Ahmedabad, displayed a poster against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) written in his own blood. The poster said “Boycott CAA/NCR/NPR”.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath has pledged that his government will take “revenge” on those involved in alleged violence in CAA protests by auctioning their property to compensate for the losses.

“There is no place for violence in a democracy. In the name of opposing the CAA, the Congress, SP and Left parties have pushed the entire country to fire. There was violence in Lucknow and Sambhal and we will deal with it strictly. All properties of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses,” he said.

“They have been captured in video and CCTV footage. We will take ‘badla’ (revenge) on them,” Adityanath said.

Sixteen Muslims were killed in Uttar Pradesh on a single day after Adityanath, promised to take “revenge” against protesters. Uttar Pradesh authorities have consistently denied any responsibility for the deaths.

Lastly, one of the first divisive comments against protesters was made by Modi himself when he said, “People who are setting fire (to property) can be seen on television. They can be identified by the clothes they are wearing,”