Amid police’s no firing claim during anti-CAA protests, video shows cop shooting in Kanpur
A video has emerged on Sunday from Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur showing a policeman opening fire, a day after at least eight people were killed in violence during protests over the citizenship law as senior officials claimed no bullet has been fired by the force.
The highest number of deaths have been reported from Uttar Pradesh in protests that have taken place in the aftermath of this month’s passage of CAA, which seeks to fast-track the grant of Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsi in the Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The death toll has risen to 17 in the state with the fatalities in Saturday’s unrest and the overnight deaths of six people hurt in clashes on Friday. Many of them died of bullet injuries.
The state’s police chief on Saturday said police has not opened fire during the large-scale anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests and suggested that those who died were caught in cross-firing between protesters.
The video was shot at around 5pm in Kanpur’s Yateemkhana Crossing locality, where clashes between the police and protesters were reported on Saturday. Kanpur was among one of the places where violence erupted in Uttar Pradesh.
In the one-minute-37-second video, the policeman in riot gear is seen walking at the site of clashes with a pistol and his baton. He can be seen readying it and then walking to a corner and opening fire at protesters.
It also shows someone shouting to stop shooting the incident and let the policemen fire.
Inspector general of police (Kanpur Range) Mohit Agarwal on Sunday denied that there was any firing by any of his officers or personnel.
“The police only used lathicharge and teargas shells. They did not fire. The cop seen in the video with a pistol might have just pointed to scare the protesters,” Agarwal said.
When questioned about the sound of the gunshot, Agarwal said: “It could have been some other surrounding sound.”
Before Agarwal, director general of police (DGP), OP Singh, had also claimed otherwise on Saturday.
“All the deaths took place in cross-firing and this will become clear in the post-mortem examination,” OP Singh had said.
“We are clear and transparent on this. If anyone died due to our firing, we will conduct a judicial inquiry and take action. But nothing happened from our side,” he said.
The DGP said that “outsiders” were involved in the violence and members of political parties and NGOs could also have been present.
Additional director general of police (Kanpur Zone) Prem Prakash also talked about outsiders’ involvement.
“More than 400 empty cartridges have been recovered across Uttar Pradesh. It proves that protesters were firing with country-made weapons and that those who died in their fire were either innocent by-standers or part of the mob themselves,” the state’s inspector general (law and order) Praveen Kumar said during a press conference.
Two senior police officials said while speaking to HT that the firing by the policeman was an “one off” incident and insisted that personnel were using rubber bullets and use of regular ammunition was restrained. They asked not be named.
The injured and eyewitnesses, however, say otherwise. They assert the police did fire at people and encouraged outsiders, they allege even journalists, to damage the vehicles to malign the movement.
Dozens of people were injured — 13 with gunshots wounds— after thousands protested against the citizenship act and clashed with the police in Kanpur. A 14-year-old boy is among the injured and a policeman was also shot at on his shoulder.
Protests against the amended law, which critics allege discriminates on the basis of religion, have rapidly spread across several parts of the country.
Protesters have fought pitched battles with the police in most major cities of the country, including Delhi, prompting authorities to impose restrictions on internet services as well as people’s movement.