Union Minister for Minorities, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, on Saturday demanded "immediate action" against an Uttar Pradesh cop who purportedly asked Muslims to "go to Pakistan" during a protest.
A row erupted after a video showed a top police officer in Meerut saying that protestors who had hit streets against the new citizenship law can "go to Pakistan". It drew sharp criticism from various quarters, including the BJP which rules the state.
"It is condemnable if it is true. Immediate action should be taken against the police officer," Naqvi told the media.
The incident purportedly took place on December 20 in Lisari Gate Police Station area, when Meerut Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Narayan Singh was speaking to some locals in a narrow lane after violent protests and clashes in the city last week left five people dead.
Singh, however, said he made the remark for people shouting slogans in support of Pakistan during the protest. "I advised them to go to the place in support of which they were raising slogans."
The 1.43-minute-long video has been circulated widely, the police officer is heard saying, "Yeh jo kaali aur peeli patti bandhe huye hain inko keh do Pakistan chale jao... Khaoge yahan ka, gaoge kahin aur ka (Tell the protestors who have tied black and yellow bands to go to Pakistan, You will eat here but praise someplace else)."
"Yeh gali mujhe yaad ho gayi hai, yaad rakhna. Aur jab mujhe yaad ho jaata hai toh mein naani tak pahunchta hun (I now remember this lane and I can reach your grandmother)," he said.
BSP chief Mayawati tweeted saying, "During protests against CAA-NRC, the communal language/remarks by Meerut SP on them is extremely condemnable and unfortunate."
Reacting to the incident, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said, "India's Constitution does not allow use of such language for anyone. And when you are an official occupying an important post, your responsibility increases," she said in a tweet in Hindi and shared a related news video.
She also said, "BJP has infused communal poison in institutions to an extent that officials have virtually no respect for the oath of the Constitution."
ADG Meerut Zone Prashant Kumar said the incident occurred on December 20 following protests in the city. Some people were raising pro-Pakistan slogans and distributing objectionable pamphlets in support of Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India, he said.
The PFI is allegedly influenced by the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned terror outfit.
Kumar said after receiving information about the slogan-shouting, SP City and DM City went to the spot and told the people that they can leave if they want to.
He said the video, which has triggered a controversy, was part of a conspiracy as it was being circulated a week after the incident and when the situation was turning peaceful in the area.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party MLA Rafiq Ansari hit out at the Meerut SP, saying he should exercise restraint and not make unconstitutional remarks. The people he referred to were also the residents of India, he said.
Five people were killed in violence in the city during protests against the amended citizenship law. Protestors had set over two dozen police vehicles on fire and pelted stones.
(With inputs from agencies)