‘Police displayed restraint, scale of firing by protesters was unexpected’: UP DGP OP Singh
Uttar Pradesh director general of police O P Singh,in an interview with Neeraj Chauhan, spoke about protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, and the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) that rocked the state last week, police firing on the protestors, internet shutdowns and damage to property. Edited excerpts:
Why has major violence been reported only in UP during the anti-CAA protests? Was the UP Police not prepared ?
Around the time when some litigants decided to go for a review against the Ayodhya judgement, CAB was also being discussed and there was increased sensitivity. Some vested interests were projecting the NRC exercise in Assam as being discriminatory and indulging in scaremongering... All these contributed to heightened sensitivity and maybe even projected a sense of alarm among UP’s Muslims...
We constantly appealed to the people to abide by the Section 144 orders. Protestors chose to defy it... As a result, after the Friday prayers [on December 20], these people instigated children and young boys to resort to stone-pelting, arson, firing... The scale of firing on police was not expected.
You earlier said not a single bullet was fired by police, but later Bijnor police admitted that one of the protesters was killed in police firing. Please elaborate.
In an operational scenario, details are shared as and when the law and order situation permits taking stock of the situation and reporting to headquarters. In Bijnor, some protester directly fired upon the SP . One of our brave constables, escorting him [SP], took the injury and fired back in self-defence... no firing under 129 CrPC (law on dispersing a crowd) was ordered. When you look at the scale at which we were fired upon... you’d agree we displayed a lot of restraint.
Videos and pictures shared on social media show UP police entering homes and indulging in vandalism.
If anybody has any grievance, they can approach the local police and executive magistrates with their complaint and it shall be looked into. As has been made clear, we have not entered homes and fired at protesters.
Why are there so many internet shutdowns in UP?
We found that social media was being misused to circulate rumors and mobilise protestors. The internet shutdown was done for required duration in only those districts where sensitivity was high.