Amid large protests held across the country regarding the derogatory remarks made against Prophet Muhammad by former BJP functionaries Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, a BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh posted a video on Saturday, 11 June, with the caption “balvaiyon ko return gift” which translates to “a return gift to the rioters.”
The video uploaded on Twitter by the BJP legislator, Shalabh Mani Tripathi, shows two policemen in uniform whipping nine people who were allegedly involved in the riots. The visual shows the people in custody begging for mercy and pleading with the police to stop hurting them, as they continue to get beaten up by the police.
Tripathi, a BJP MLA from Deoria, who shared this video, has not revealed the location of the incident.
However, many reports suggested that the incident actually took place in western Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur – a claim that is yet to be ascertained. Meanwhile, a report published by The Telegraph quoted a police official who denied that such an incident took place, and that they were taking the help of the cyber department to find out where and how it happened.
What Were the Reactions?
MLA Tripathi was criticised for sharing a video that bolsters police brutality. Taking to the micro-blogging site, Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan questioned the police authorities and wrote, “Will these criminals in uniform be held liable for this brutality?”
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Lucknow, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that incidents such as this would damage people's faith in the justice system.
“Questions should be raised about such police stations. Uttar Pradesh tops in witnessing highest custodial deaths, it is a leader in human rights violations and abuse of Dalits," he added.
First-time MLA Tripathi, a former media advisor to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, also justified his tweets and further questioned his critics as to why they remained silent on violent fatwas that were being issued. As of Sunday afternoon, 12 June, the video and Tripathi’s caption on Twitter could still be seen, without any warning about the content being potentially sensitive to users.
The incident comes at a time when the country is witnessing large-scale protests against the statements made by now suspended BJP Spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Delhi BJP media head, Naveen Jindal. According to an NDTV report, in Uttar Pradesh alone, more than 300 people have been arrested after some reportedly pelted stones at police personnel after Friday prayers on 10 June.
The central government is also being accused of using extrajudicial methods to crack down on alleged criminals and rioters. Several properties of the accused have either been seized or bulldozed by the authorities.
(With inputs from NDTV and The Telegraph.)
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