Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma on Monday criticised Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s comments about Chief Minister Adityanath, and accused her of supporting “those who threw stones”, PTI reported.

“Today, she has forgotten that in the name of appeasing the minorities, she is supporting the rioters, people who pelted stones, damaged public property and rained bullets, from whom bullets and revolvers were seized,” Hindustan Times quoted Sharma as saying.

At least 19 people have been killed in the state in the past two weeks during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The police have been accused of excesses, with 15 of the 19 deaths caused by firearm injuries. The police in Bijnor district are accused of torturing five minors and other detainees.

At a press conference in Lucknow earlier in the afternoon, Priyanka Gandhi said there was no place for violence, revenge and resentment in India, referring to Adityanath’s statement that his government would “take revenge” against protestors. “Saffron denotes Hinduism and does not reflect revenge or violence,” she said, referring to the colour of Adityanath’s robes. The Congress leader also accused the state government of wreaking “havoc in the state without any legal basis”.

Sharma said Gandhi had disrespected Hinduism by making the saffron remark. “Priyanka Gandhi does not know what ‘bhagwa [saffron]’ is,” he told reporters.

The deputy chief minister alleged that the Congress and other Opposition parties were trying to link saffron to violent tendencies in an attempt to create unrest, India Today reported. “I think, all Congress, SP and BSP are playing 20-20 matches,” he added. “They are chasing each other for vote banks and while doing this, she went to the extent of supporting rioters.”

In a memorandum to Governor Anandiben Patel, Gandhi sought an investigation into the police’s actions. “This is unbefitting of a force that is duty bound to safeguard and protect the rights of every citizen,” read the document that was also signed by Congress state President Ajay Kumar Lallu. The party claimed the police’s conduct was reported to be patently unlawful, destructive of the rule of law and repressive of honest citizens.

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