Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Monday hit out at Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saying there is no place for violence or “revenge” in the country.
Addressing a press conference here, the Congress general secretary took a dig at Adityanath’s earlier warning that rioters damaging public property will have to pay and said the saffron denotes Hinduism, a religion that does not advocate violence or “revenge”.
Concluding her four-day visit to Lucknow days after statewide violent clashes over the Citizenship Amendment Act, she told mediapersons that her own security was not a big issue.
“The question of my security is not a big one. It is a small question on which there is no need to hold any discussion. I will not raise the issue of security because it is a trivial matter. It has nothing to do with the public,” she said, in an apparent reference to her alleged manhandling by the state police.
“The issue is the safety of the common man in UP,” she asserted.
“This is the country of Lord Krishna – who was the symbol of compassion. Lord Ram was the symbol of compassion. Everybody dances in the marriage procession (baraat) of Lord Shiva. There is no place for ‘hinsaa’ (violence), ‘badlaa’ (revenge) and ‘ranj’ (anger) in the country’s soul.
“When Shri Krishna gave the sermon to Arjun during the Mahabharat war, he did not talk about revenge or anger to the great warrior on the battlefield. He only brought out the feelings of compassion and truth,” she said.
Sharpening her attack on the chief minister, she said, “He is wearing the dress (vastra) of an Yogi. He is wearing saffron clothes. This bhagwa (saffron) is not yours, it belongs to ‘dhaarmik’ (religious), ‘aadhyaatmik’ (spiritual) tradition of Hindustan. It is a symbol of the Hindu religion. Uss dharma ko dhaaran kariye (imbibe that religion). In that religion, there is no place for anger, violence and revenge. This is all I have to say.”
Releasing copies of a 14-page memorandum submitted to Governor Anandiben Patel, she said there is ample proof in the document on how the police and the administration indulged in wrongdoing and vandalism.
The memorandum claimed a total of 23 death occurred in the state in the alleged police excesses during the anti-CAA protests by people, while the UP government claims 19 deaths in clashes.
There is also a video of police vandalism, police beating up a minor in Kanpur, she said, referring to the contents of memorandum.
“There were numerous examples through which it could be seen that the police and administration acted on the chief minister’s statement that he will take revenge. I think it has happened for the first time in the history that a CM has given such a statement that revenge will be taken from the public,” she said.
The properties which have been confiscated and notices served, also include that of ex-IPS officer S R Darapuri. He had probably used the earnings of his lifetime for his house, and he has got a notice, because he had uploaded a Facebook post.
Quoting from the memorandum, the Congress leader said the conduct of the UP police has been “patently unlawful, destructive of the rule of law and repressive of honest citizens”.
“This is unbefitting of a force that is duty-bound to safeguard and protect the citizens’ rights,” the memorandum said.
After the chief minister’s statement, the police and administration appear to have acted in “a manner that is biased, unlawful, and violative of the fundamental rights of citizens,” the memorandum said.
It also said in the last two weeks, people in Uttar Pradesh have been “shot at, beaten, arrested, detained, received notices for the confiscation of their properties and been wrongfully charged with extremely serious offences simply for exercising their democratic right to protest”.
In some cases, mere bystanders have been targeted by police, it said.
The UP Police initially claimed there were no deaths caused by police firing, said the memorandum, adding the authorities, however, later admitted deaths in police firings, while trying to make excuses.
The memorandum said the Bijnor police admitted that 21-year-old Suleiman of Nehtaur was in fact shot by them, while claiming that the boy was killed as he had fired from a country-made pistol.
The family of the boy has stated that the boy was running fever and had gone for his Friday prayers to the local mosque when the police abducted him, removed his clothes from the upper part of his body and shot him in the chest, it said.
“These contradictory statements made by the police can only mean one of two things – either the director general of police intentionally misled the people, or he himself was misled by his own subordinates and was not aware that bullets had indeed been fired by his men,” the document said.
“The fabricated narrative of the police has thus been completely exposed in this case,” it said.
It also said notices for recovery of fines and seizure of property in lieu thereof have been issued to 498 persons in Uttar Pradesh.
These persons include “respected members of society” and a number of social activists such as 77-year-old retired IPS officer S R Darapuri, who is a well-known social activist and Ambedkarite scholar, it said.