Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Saturday made an unscheduled visit to Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, to meet the families of those who were injured or killed in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in the state, PTI reported.
Gandhi arrived in Muzaffarnagar in the morning and met Maulana Asad Hussaini, who runs madrassa Hoz E Ilmia near Meenakshi Chowk, where violence erupted during the protests on December 20, the Hindustan Times reported. After meeting the family of one of the injured protestors, Gandhi said: “I will stand with you in this hour of distress.”
Gandhi said the victims accused the Uttar Pradesh Police of unleashing a “reign of terror” in the state, and beating them up for no fault of their own. The Congress leader claimed that the police entered the madrassa for no reason and beat up Husseini and his students.
“I met Maulana Asad Hussaini, who was brutally thrashed by the police,” Gandhi told reporters. “Students of the madarsa, including minors, were picked up by the police without any reason. Some of them some have been released and some are still in custody.”
Gandhi visited the home of Noor Mohammad, who was killed in the protests. She spoke to his pregnant widow and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The Congress leader also visited Rukaiya, who will be getting married on Saturday. Rukaiya told Gandhi that the police vandalised her home and destroyed things bought for the wedding.
The Congress general secretary also travelled to the outskirts of Meerut, where she met the relatives of those killed in the protests, a tweet by the party said. The Uttar Pradesh administration had last month not allwed both Priyanka Gandhi and her brother, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, to visit Meerut.
Priyanka Gandhi told reporters on Saturday that she has highlighted each and every police excess in her memorandum to Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, PTI reported. The Congress leader had late last month visited Bijnor and Lucknow, despite police attempts to stop her from entering the state capital.
At a press conference in Lucknow on December 31, the Congress leader had said there was no place for violence, revenge and resentment in India, referring to Chief Minister Adityanath’s statement that his government would “take revenge” against protestors.
At least 19 people were killed in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam, and two in Karnataka. The Uttar Pradesh Police have been accused of using excessive force against people protesting the Act. They have also been accused of detaining and torturing minors.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, makes citizenship smoother for refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country before December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it.