Prophet remark row: Prayagraj under tight security day after violent protests
The Prayagraj police said that so far around 65 individuals involved in the violence have been arrested since Friday evening and efforts are underway to identify others.
The heavy police presence in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj continued on Saturday, a day after violent protests by members of the minority community left many locals and security personnel injured.
Violence erupted in Atala and adjoining areas when members of the minority community assembled in large numbers after Friday prayers to protest against the controversial comments on Prophet Mohammed made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) former spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
“The situation continues to be normal. We have appealed to all to maintain peace and section 144 continues to remain in place as a precaution,” said district magistrate of Prayagraj, Sanjay Kumar Khatri.
Most shops in the area continued to remain closed even as police put in force traffic diversions to commuters away from the affected area.
Police personnel backed by additional companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been posted in Atala, Kareli and surrounding areas of Khuldabad. Four magistrates have also been posted in the affected and nearby areas of the old city.
“So far around 65 individuals involved in the violence have been arrested since Friday evening and efforts are underway to identify others with the help of video recordings and CCTV footage of the incident so that more arrests can follow,” said IG of Prayagraj range, Rakesh Singh.
Already three FIRs under relevant sections of IPC against 1,000 people have been registered on charges of rioting, arson, violating section 144, obstructing government work, attacking police personnel and damaging government and public properties.
“Two FIRs have been registered at Khuldabad police station and one at Kareli. The arrested persons are being questioned and their cohorts too would be arrested. We will take strict action against all found involved in Friday’s incident of violence including under national security act (NSA),” the IG added.
Meanwhile, “operation cleanup” continued all through the night in the Atala area, where heavy brick batting and arson by the violent mob took place on Friday. With the help of Prayagraj municipal corporation, 25 truckloads of stones and bricks and other wastes were collected from the area. Officials had to put in place JCB machines and a team of 50 sanitation workers to clean up the mess left in wake of the incident.
SSP-Prayagraj Ajay Kumar said that some individuals believed to be behind the arson and violence have been identified. “These people include some who were at the forefront of the anti-CAA protests of 2020 in Prayagraj. None of the trouble makers or the people behind them would be spared,” he said.
Police were on alert over the calls for a bandh on Friday and had made elaborate security arrangements at sensitive places. Despite appeals by local religious leaders and warnings issued by district officials, youngsters in large numbers assembled after Friday prayers at Atala, demanding action against Nupur Sharma.
The protestors had shouted slogans and resorted to stone- pelting when police tried to disperse them. Over a dozen police personnel were injured in the incident, including inspector general of police (Prayagraj range) Rakesh Kumar Singh, who received injuries on his hands and back. Two Rapid Action Force personnel, including inspector Manish Kumar, received serious injuries and were rushed to hospital for treatment.
The protestors torched a PAC truck and set over half-a-dozen motorcycles and a rickshaw on fire. The stone pelting in the area continued for over four hours before the police managed to restore order completely by evening.