Uttar Pradesh Minister Kapil Dev Agarwal stoked a controversy on Thursday (December 26) after he refused to meet the families of the two Muslim men who died in the recent protests against the new citizenship law (CAA), terming them ‘upadravi’ (vandals).
The Minister, however, defended his action by saying that he had met a journalist from the Muslim community, who was injured during the clashes.
“Why should I go to the homes of rioters. Those who are rioting and want to inflame passions, how are they part of society. Why should I go there? This is not about Hindu-Muslim. Why should I go to the houses of rioters? I met a Muslim journalist who was injured during the clashes,” Agarwal told reporters here on Thursday.
“Why should I visit those who want to put Nahtaur/Bijnor in flames?” the minister in-charge of the district added.
Agarwal, the vocational education and skill development minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, did meet Om Raj Saini, who also died in the riot, and stated that Om was injured by a bullet fired by miscreants while he was returning from his fields.
“I have held talks with the police and they told me Om Raj Saini was injured by a bullet while he returning from his fields. Therefore, upon the directions of Chief Minister, I visited his house and assured his family that his medical expenses will be borne by the administration,” Agarwal said.
He further said that while everyone had a right to protest peacefully, violence and vandalism could not be justified.
“Firstly, the responsibility lies on those who protested using violent means against CAA. Everybody has the right to protest but indulging in vandalism, arson is never justified,” Agarwal said.
He asserted that the state administration will deal strictly with those who are found guilty.
“The two (Muslim) men who had lost their lives were involved in rioting. They died due to bullet injuries during the protest,” he said.
During Friday’s, violence 20-year-old Suleman, an IAS aspirant, and 25-year-old Anas lost their lives.
After initial denials, the local police admitted that Suleman died from a police bullet and that he was among the alleged rioters who opened fire at a cop from a country-made gun and that he was shot in self-defense.
Suleman’s family, however, denies this and says he had nothing to do with the protests. Nineteen people were killed, 263 police personnel injured and state-owned property damaged across Uttar Pradesh in violence during the protests against the amended law.
(With input from agencies.)