India’s minister for minorities has called for disciplinary measures against a police officer who told Muslims protesting a new citizenship bill to “go to Pakistan” after a video of the incident went viral.
Union Minister for Minorities Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that “immediate action should be taken against the police officer”if the allegations are true. He stressed that the government would respond if police or officials were found to have carried out “atrocities on the people.”
In a video that went viral on social media and was shared by local news outlets, a senior police officer in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh confronts a group of Muslims rallying against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“If you don’t want to live here, go to Pakistan,” the cop told the group. He also threatened to “throw them all in jail” and “destroy them,” according to translations provided by Indian media.
He later told reporters that some young men were hurling stones at police and shouting pro-Pakistan slogans during the protest. “I asked them if they love Pakistan so much, then they should go there.”
Meerut Additional Director General (ADG) Prashant Kumar defended the incendiary comments, claiming the policeman was trying to control a protest that was turning violent. “The officer only asked them to stop pelting stones and [said] they can go there [Pakistan] if they wanted to,” Kumar said.
Meerut has been the scene of violent clashes amid nationwide unrest over the CAA. Five people died there last week, and relatives reportedly claim they were shot dead by police.
Officers denied killing anyone, saying they opened fire only to control the crowd. They also suggested that violent armed protesters might be responsible for the deaths, as their shots went astray. Police released CCTV footage purportedly showing demonstrators with firearms.
The CAA offers a fast track to Indian citizenship for religious minorities in three Muslim-majority neighboring countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Critics say the law is discriminatory because it does not extend to Muslims. The Indian government has defended the legislation on humanitarian grounds, while blaming the violent protests on misinformation spread by opposition parties.