New Delhi: A massive war of words erupted on Monday between the Congress and the BJP over alleged police excesses in Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of violent anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the state. While Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi ‘advised’ Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that ‘saffron denotes Hinduism, a religion that doesn’t advocate violence or revenge,’ the state government hit back instantly, accusing her of siding with the rioters.
Nearly two dozen protesters have been killed in police crackdown in the state since violence took place there for three straight days between December 19-21. Civil and human rights activists, have, however, flayed the police, accusing it of committing human rights violations in the garb of crackdown.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow after a UP Congress delegation met Governor Anandiben Patel, Priyanka, the general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, said that a High Court-monitored probe should be held into allegations of excesses against the police. She also criticised the state government for arresting anti-CAA activists, including former IPS officer SR Darapuri and actor-activist Sadaf Jafar, who is also a Congress worker.
She also slammed the Chief Minister for vowing ‘revenge’ against protesters, saying that this was the first time such a language was being used by a Chief Minister. “Yogi ji‘s saffron is a symbol of a religion which doesn’t have any place for violence,” she further said.
On her alleged manhandling by the police, she said that it was a trivial matter in comparison to the safety of the common man in the state.
Responding to Priyanka, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma accused her of denigrating Hinduism and siding with rioters who indulged in violence and arson in the state. He also dismissed as drama, her taking a ride on a two-wheeler to visit Darapuri as there were prohibitory orders in place. Siding with the policewoman accused of manhandling her, he said that she did her duty despite a tragedy in her personal life, referring to the death of her brother at a hospital in Delhi.
He also denied that the Chief Minister had used the word ‘badla (revenge)’ and stressed that the government will act against those who damage public property.
On a related note, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which guards Priyanka, who is a Z+ protectee, backed the Uttar Pradesh Police, saying that she undertook an ‘unscheduled’ movement without informing it, due to which it could not establish an advanced security liaison (ASL).