Hardline Indian state chief defends ‘strict’ response to protests

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The chief minister of India’s Uttar Pradesh state has rebuffed accusations from rights teams of police abuses throughout protests in opposition to a brand new citizenship legislation, crediting his powerful stand with restoring calm to the streets.

The northern state has seen probably the most violent turmoil over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s citizenship legislation. Activists say the legislation is discriminatory towards the Muslim neighborhood, which makes up some 14 per cent of India’s inhabitants.

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Out of at the very least 25 individuals who have been killed because the protests started this month, 19 had been in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most populous state. The clashes within the state seem to have eased over the previous week, nonetheless, although small-scale demonstrations proceed.

The state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, a hardline Hindu priest who belongs to Modi’s Hindu nationalist occasion, mentioned his powerful insurance policies had ended the difficulty.

“Every rioter is shocked. Every troublemaker is astonished. Looking at the strictness of the Yogi government, everyone is silent,” considered one of Adityanath’s mentioned on considered one of his verified Twitter accounts late on Friday. “Do whatever you want to, but the damages will be paid by those who cause damages.”

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Final week, his authorities mentioned it was demanding tens of millions of rupees from greater than 200 folks, threatening to confiscate their property to pay for injury in the course of the protests.

‘Extreme pressure’

Rights teams have decried what they are saying have been mass detentions and extreme pressure within the state, the place officers have arrested greater than 1,000 folks. The citizenship laws makes it simpler for members of non secular minorities from India’s Muslim-majority neighbours — Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — who settled in India earlier than 2015 get citizenship however doesn’t provide the identical concession to Muslims.

Critics say the legislation — and plans for a nationwide citizenship register — discriminate in opposition to Muslims and are an assault on the secular structure by Modi’s authorities. The federal government has mentioned no citizen will probably be affected and there’s no imminent plan for a register.

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In a while Saturday, the overall secretary of the opposition Congress occasion, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, added to criticism of UP police. Vadra instructed reporters she was in a gaggle driving to the house of a former police officer arrested in reference to the protests when a police automobile blocked the best way, so Vadra determined to proceed on foot.

“(Police officers) encircled me, strangulated me, grabbed me … and pushed me. I fell,” Vadra mentioned. “I took a two-wheeler. They stopped me again and then I came here by walking.”

A vegetable vendor pushes his cart previous police personnel standing guard on a road in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Friday. Paramilitary and police forces had been deployed and the web shut down in Muslim-majority districts the place greater than a dozen folks have been killed and greater than 1,000 folks arrested in protests. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/The Related Press)

Lucknow’s Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani later launched a video saying an officer concerned within the incident had submitted a report denying Vadra’s allegations.

A video circulating on social media is prone to compound the considerations of these apprehensive in regards to the plight of Muslims. It reveals a senior UP police officer telling a demonstrator to “go to Pakistan if you don’t want to live here.”

The official, Akhilesh Narayan Singh, instructed Reuters that some protesters had been shouting pro-Pakistan slogans. “It is in this situation I told them to go to Pakistan,” he mentioned.

Congress occasion officers led protests on Saturday underneath the slogan “Save Constitution-Save India.”

In the meantime, Hindu activists linked to Modi’s occasion performed workshops in slums in an effort to ease public discontent.

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