Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari on Friday claimed that the gunman who shot a student near Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi the day before was either a supporter of the Aam Aadmi Party or was from Shaheen Bagh, NDTV reported.

The protests at Shaheen Bagh have become a focal point for the BJP recently, especially ahead of elections in the Capital on February 8. Hundreds of women, along with children, have been peacefully protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens there for almost a month and a half. Several BJP leaders have incorporated the protests into their election speeches and have lashed out at the demonstrators there, including Home Minister Amit Shah.

“These people are not being able to sustain their own protest,” Tiwari told NDTV. “That is why, now, they’re coming up with these claims.”

However, a review of the gunman’s Facebook page – it has since been taken down – showed him in the company of Hindutva activists from the Bajrang Dal, including one leader who had access to Union Minister Giriraj Singh, among others.

“Anyone can claim to be associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party,” Tiwari added. “I am pretty confident he was one among the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors.”

The shooter brandished a gun before the demonstrators and threatened to shoot them even as Delhi Police personnel stood metres away. The attacker was heard shouting “Yeh lo azaadi [here’s your freedom]” before he fired the gun, injuring a student. He was taken into custody by the police. Since he is reportedly a minor, his name cannot be published.

Meanwhile, Union minister Smriti Irani claimed that political parties who had failed to win the Lok Sabha elections were supporting protests like the one at Shaheen Bagh, PTI reported.

“There is anger in the entire country that in Shaheen Bagh, AAP and other political parties which had failed to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are supporting talk of dividing the country,” Irani told reporters in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district.

She also alleged that protestors shouted “anti-national” slogans and criticised the Constitution in Shaheen Bagh.

“Has their standard of politics touched so low that after defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, they are not able to accept it and are speaking about dividing the country from these platforms,” the Amethi MP asked. “They are talking about ‘Jinnah wali azadi’ and about digging graves. Countrymen are looking at these things.”

This is not the first time a reference to Pakistan or Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah has been made in recent weeks in the context of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar had last week claimed efforts were being made to mislead people. “People need to decide what they want – Jinnah wali Azadi or Bharat mata ki jai,” he had said.

On January 10, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed that a video clip doing the rounds on social media shows protestors chanting “Jinnah wali azadi”. The video seemed to have been shot at Shaheen Bagh. While the words “Nehru wali azadi” and “Gandhi wali azadi” could be heard clearly, Patra claimed that the people were chanting “Jinnah-wali azadi” and thus were anti-India.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11 and notified by the Centre on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it.