Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday that Delhi riots were triggered by provocative statements made by the chief of India's principal opposition Congress Party Sonia Gandhi.
Javadekar recalled that the Congress chief had made the statement – "the time has come to save the country as this is an "aar paar ki ladai" (do or die battle) - at the "Bharat Bachao" (save India) rally right after Indian parliament cleared the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 11.
The BJP veteran equated Sonia Gandhi's statement to the controversial remark made by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after the 1984 Sikh riots.
"When a big tree falls, the earth shakes" was the statement made by Rajiv Gandhi after his mother Indira Gandhi, who was the prime minister then, was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguard and riots took place in Delhi specifically targeting the Sikh community.
Javadekar also targeted Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress for not speaking of the head constable (Ratan Lal) and the intelligence bureau member (Ankit Sharma) who lost their lives and the police personnel who were injured in the violence.
The BJP member hit out at Congress members Shashi Tharoor and Mani Shankar Aiyar for visiting anti-CAA protest sites in Shaheen Bagh and for the recovery of explosives (petrol bombs) from the roof of the AAP's local councillor Tahir Hussain's house. "Why isn't the AAP talking about it (recovery of explosives)," he said.
Severe violence broke out between pro-CAA and anti-CAA segments in Delhi on Sunday, leading to a spree of violence in the national capital. A curfew was imposed in the northeast of Delhi, and paramilitary forces had to be called in to control the violence that had left around 300 people injured.
The country has been grappling with turmoil after the passing of the CAA - which grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who settled in the country on or before December 2014. Protestors have targeted the CAA for being discriminatory towards Muslims, an allegation refuted by the Indian government in parliament by saying that the "law grants citizenship to people and does not take it away".