New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath on Wednesday defended the state police on the deaths of anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters, saying they were shot by other “rioters” and nothing can be done to save “those who want to die”.
Wrapping up the discussion in the state assembly on the governor’s address, Adityanath said the role of the police in dealing with rioters during the protests should be appreciated. “Jo jis bhasha main samjhega, usey uss bhasha main samjhayenge (We will talk to people in the language they understand),” he threatened.
About 20 people died of gunshot wounds during violent protests in several parts of Uttar Pradesh in December. “Agar koi marne ke liye aa raha hai to woh zinda kahan se ho jayega (If someone is coming with the intention to die, then how will that person remain alive),” he said.
“When someone comes out on the street with the intention to shoot people, then he dies or the policeman dies,” Adityanath continued.
The chief minister also repeated the official line that nobody died in police shooting. According to him, protestors shot at each other.
He went on to say that senior opposition leaders’ children were part of the protest and shouted ‘anti-national’, and the protestors were being protected by influential people. “Azaadi’ (freedom) slogans were raised by the protesters. The people know what ‘azaadi’ they want. The protesters wished to realise the dream of Jinnah whereas we have work to fulfil the dreams of Gandhi,” he said.
He claimed that the anti-CAA protests revealed terror funding by the Popular Front of India, which he said is another name for the banned group SIMI. “Any sympathy for them means, support to the PFI and SIMI. Those who do treason with country, will die an anonymous death (gumnam maut),” he said.
The chief minister also used his speech to lash out at the opposition. In an indirect reference to the Samajwadi Party, he recalled how in the past MLAs “used to throw paper balls” at the podium during the governor’s customary address to the house. “Those who insulted the constitution are today trying to preach about the constitution. It’s better they keep off or they will be badly exposed,” he said.
Without naming former chief minister and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Adityanath recalled his controversial ‘boys will be boys’ remark and mocked the opposition for speaking on women’s empowerment. While opposing capital punishment for rape, Mulayam had sparked outrage by saying “Ladke, ladke hain… galti ho jati hai (Boys will be boys… they commit mistakes).”
He also trained his guns at the Congress, referring to the infamous “tandoor case” in which former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma spent 23 years in Tihar Jail for killing his wife Naina Sahni and then trying to dispose of her body in a restaurant tandoor. “These parties have the cheek to call themselves champions of women’s empowerment,” he said.
The chief minister said when the governor spoke on ‘Ramrajya’ in her address, it did not have any religious connotations. “My government is determined on Ramrajya, which means governance for public welfare, he said.
Earlier, opposition parties had asked for judicial probe into the violence during anti-CAA and alleged police atrocities on the protesters. In a series of ground reports from Uttar Pradesh, The Wire had detailed how the police used excessive force against protestors and detained minors. The police’s claim that they did not fire any bullets was also contradicted by victims and eyewitnesses.