By Muhammad Luqman
A senior police officer in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh state has been caught on camera telling residents protesting the country’s new citizenship law to “go to Pakistan”, newspaper Indian Express reported on Saturday.
The video shared on Twitter was shot in the Lisari Gate neighbourhood of UP’s Meerut city on December 20, when five Muslim men died in clashes between protesters and police.
India has been in the grip of unrest after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government brought in the Citizenship Amendment Act, which many see as discriminatory against Muslims, who make up 14 per cent of the population.
The law, which offers fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim nationals from three neighbouring countries, is the latest policy instituted by Modi’s government that critics accuse of marginalising Muslims in the Hindu-majority nation.
The video clip shows Superintendent of Police City Akhilesh N Singh saying: “Kahan jaoge, is gali ko theek kar doonga (Where will you go, I will sort out this lane)”, referring to four protesters that the police were chasing, according to Indian Express.
The officer then turns to three men standing in the mainly Muslim locality and says: “Yeh jo kaali aur peeli patti baande huye hain inse keh do Pakistan chale jao. Khaoge yahan ka, gaoge kahin aur ka? Yeh gali mujhe yaad ho gayi hai. Aur jab mujhe yaad ho jaata hai toh mein naani tak puhanch jaata hun (The ones tying black and yellow bands, tell them to go to Pakistan. You eat here but sing praises of another place? This lane is now familiar to me. And once I remember, I can even reach your grandmother.)”
The police officer, dressed in riot gear and accompanied by other personnel, can also be seen threatening the three men standing in the narrow lane. “If something happens, you guys will pay the price. Every man from each house will be arrested,” the official can be heard saying.
According to the report, SP Singh justified his remarks by saying “the context is that anti-social elements were making pro-Pakistan statements”.
“We had come to the area to see who all were making pro-Pakistan statements. When we arrived with force, they had run away. We found out that there were 3-4 such people who wanted to create an issue. We had discussions with the locals,” the police officer added.
Police have cracked down on the demonstrations that have spread across India, but Uttar Pradesh has seen the worst violence. At least 19 of 25 deaths have taken place there.
UP, India’s most populous state with roughly 200 million people, is ruled by a Hindu priest and has a history of deadly Hindu-Muslim clashes.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has justified the police crackdown on demonstrations, saying the action has “shocked” every protestor into silence, according to the news website, Scroll.in.