Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Wednesday claimed that not a single person was killed by police bullets during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the state on December 20 and 21, PTI reported. In the state Assembly, the chief minister said protestors died in firing among themselves.

The biggest demonstrations as well as the largest crackdown on people protesting against the amended law was witnessed in Uttar Pradesh. At least 22 people died in the violence during the protests, most of whom had succumbed to “firearm injuries”. In the state’s Bijnor district, a police official had also admitted that he shot a protestor in “self-defence” during protests.

Adityanath said the police and the state administration should be praised for the work done by them during the protests as no riots were reported after the violence in December, according to NDTV. “If someone is coming to die, how can he be alive,” he asked. “If someone comes out to kill an innocent person and he is challenged by police, then either he or the policemen has to die. No one died of police bullet. The trouble-makers died from bullet of another trouble-maker. A big conspiracy was revealed behind anti-CAA protests.”

The chief minister said his government was not against protests but would come down heavily against those indulging in violence. “I have always said we will support any democratic protest,” he added. “But if someone hides behind democracy to vitiate the atmosphere, if there is violence...we will reply to them in their language.”

Adityanath also accused the Congress and the Samajwadi Party of supporting and sympathising with the outfits that participated in the protests in which arson and vandalism were reported. “Those [parties] who have been insulting the Constitution are today trying to preach us the Constitution,” he said. “Better they keep off or they will be badly exposed.”

On Monday, the state government had told the Allahabad High Court that 883 people were arrested for violence during the protests. Of these, 322 people were still in prison, the government said.

The Uttar Pradesh Police have been accused not only of using excessive force, but also of entering homes, destroying property and detaining and torturing minors.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, offers a fast track to citizenship for non-Muslim undocumented immigrants 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.