An Uttar Pradesh minister on a visit in Bijnor on Thursday refused to meet the families of the two Muslim men who died in the recent protests against the new citizenship law, terming them upadravi (vandals).
"Why should I go to vandals' place? How can those who are involved in vandalism and put the entire country and state in arson be social," minister Kapil Dev Agarwal posed, defending his decision to not visit the homes of the two Muslim families.
"Why should I visit those who want to put Nahtaur/Bijnor in flames?" the minister in-charge of the district shot back when asked by reporters to justify his decision.
Agarwal, the vocational education and skill development minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, did meet Om Raj Saini, who was injured in the violence that hit the district's Nehtaur area, and his family.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday met the families of those dead in the violence in Bijnor.
When a mediaperson confronted the UP minister by asking him specifically whether it did not amount to discrimination, Agarwal retorted saying, "Why should I go to the homes of vandals? Listen to me. Those who are doing vandalism and want to inflame passions, how are they part of society. Why should I go there? This is not about Hindu-Muslim. Why should I go to vandals?"
During Friday's violence 20-year-old Suleman, an IAS aspirant, and 25-year-old Anas lost their lives.
After initial denials, the local police admitted that Suleman died from a police bullet and that he was among the alleged rioters who opened fire at a cop from a country-made gun and that he was shot in self-defence.
Suleman's family, however, denies this and says he had nothing to do with the protests.
Nineteen people were killed, 263 police personnel injured and state-owned property damaged across Uttar Pradesh in violence during the protests against the amended law.