LUCKNOW: Minister of state with independent charge in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, Kapil Dev Agarwal, courted a controversy on Thursday, by refusing to meet the families of Suleman and Anas, who died during the Bijnor anti-CAA protests, while visiting Om Raj Saini who was injured by a gunshot during the stir last Friday.
While Saini received a gunshot allegedly fired by a protestor, Suleman, 20, had died of a gunshot fired by the cops and Anas, 25, also died of the gunshot fired by one of the protestors from a country-made weapon during the flare-up.
During an interaction with media persons after meeting Saini, when Agarwal was asked why he skipped the families of the two Muslim men who died during the protests negating the BJP government’s maxim of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, he called the two deceased ‘rioters’.
The minister refused to accept the allegations of discrimination saying he did not find it proper to visit the families of rioters. "Why should I go to the homes of rioters. Those who are rioting and want to foment passions against the nation, how are they part of society. Why should I go there? This is not about
Hindu-Muslim but why should I visit rioters who indulged in arson and vandalism," he said.
Further denying the ‘discrimination’ charge, Agarwal claimed that he had gone to meet a Muslim media person who had sustained injuries during the violent protests but refused to visit the families of the two deceased calling them arsonists and rioters.
Meanwhile, while Saini's family claimed that he was not part of any mob of protesters on the fateful day, the parents of Suleman and Anas also made similar claims reiterating the non-complicity of the two who were caught in the cross-fire between the cops and the protesters.
While Saini’s kin claimed that he was returning from the fields when he was shot at, allegedly with an illegal weapon of a rioter, Suleman’s parents said he was an IAS aspirant who had nothing to do with the stir. The parents of Anas also denied that he was among the protesters.
There have been violent protests in several parts of the country against the amended Citizenship Act, the first-ever law to make religion a criteria for citizenship.
The overall toll in the anti-CAA stir in the state has gone up to 21.