Eight killed as violence rocks several UP districts after Friday prayers
Tension simmered in several cities—Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Deoband (Saharanpur), Muzaffarnagar, Hapur, Shamli, Prayagraj, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Firozabad and Varanasi—as thousands defied pleas by authorities to exercise restraint a day after large-scale violence was reported across the state.Updated: Dec 20, 2019 23:50 IST
Despite massive police deployment and internet suspension, large-scale violence and arson rocked several Uttar Pradesh districts soon after Friday prayers during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, resulting in eight deaths and injuries to several others, some with gunshot wounds.
Director General of Police OP Singh said two people lost their lives in Bijnor and one each in Meerut, Sambhal and Firozabad. Two more deaths were also reported in Meerut, according to sources.
Coming a day after Thursday’s violence in Lucknow, Friday’s incidents in the other districts appeared to have taken the police by surprise.
In Kanpur, where a four-kilometre-long procession was taken out, 12 protestors were injured, including nine with gunshot wounds. Some of the injured were admitted to the LLR hospital in Kanpur.
Ten districts -- Meerut, Kanpur, Bulandshahr, Gorakhpur, Muzaffarnagar, Bhadohi, Farukhabad, Hapur, Firozabad and Bijnor – were hit by arson and violence with Meerut, Kanpur and Firozabad being the worst affected districts.
Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests were also held in some other districts of the state, but they passed off peacefully.
Additional Director General (ADG), Kanpur Zone, Prem Prakash denied any police firing. He said: “I have no knowledge of any firing. If at all it took place, then it must be plastic pellets and injuries would be minor.”
However, Mohammad Saif, one of the injured admitted at the LLR (Lala Lajpat Rai) Hospital said: “I have a bullet injury in my abdomen. The police engaged in unprovoked, aim-and-shoot firing at us.”
Friday’s protests come a day after violence and arson gripped the state capital, where one person was killed due to gunshot injuries.
Protestors, demanding the roll-back of CAA, defied Section 144 of the CrPC that restricted public gathering and disallowed anybody to hold protests.
In another unfortunate turn of events, an eight year old boy, who had suffered critical injuries in a stampede in Varanasi, died during treatment on Friday night, said a senior administrative officer. Eight-year-old Mohammad Sagir was playing in a narrow lane of Bajardeeha area of the city, when he was crushed in the stampede following a lathi charge on protesters. He was admitted to trauma centre at the Banaras Hindu University, where he breathed his last.
District magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma he has spoken to the senior authorities for compensation to the kin of the child.
Sharma said eight police personnel, including circle officer of Cantt police station and the station officer of Bhelupur too suffered injuries.
Meanwhile, the day passed off peacefully in Lucknow, which was the epicentre of violence on Thursday resulting in the death of a 28-year-old man named Mohd Wakil in the Old City.
Additional chief secretary, home, Awanish Awasthi and director general of police (DGP) OP Singh visited sensitive spots and met Muslim clerics to maintain peace in Lucknow.
According to the state police spokesperson, the police had put under house arrest over 3,300 people in different districts while over 200 people were detained in Lucknow after Thursday’s violence.
A senior police official confirmed that internet services remained suspended all through the day in 16 districts, including Lucknow, Saharanpur, Meerut, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Mau, Sambhal, Azamgarh, Agra, Moradabad, Unnao, Kanpur, Varanasi and Bulandshahr.
On Friday, Kanpur witnessed protests in Babupurwa, Phoolbagh and Jajmau. In Babupurwa, nine people suffered bullet wounds as police personnel opened fire while trying to restrain protesters from marching on the road after attending Friday prayers. The agitators set ablaze four police vehicles on the stretch between Bakarganj and Idgah. Besides, some protesters vandalised shops and over half-a-dozen vehicles in Yatim Khana locality.
Inspector General (IG) of Police (law and order), Praveen Kumar said police had to apply force as some anti-social elements resorted to brick-batting and arson. He said protests and violence were reported from some cities but adequate police force had been deployed to ensure peace.
In Gorakhpur, a group of protesters resorted to brick batting when police tried to restrict them from staging a protest against CAA. A local said protests were also reported from several spots in Gorakhpur where people wore black ribbons and shouted slogans while coming out of mosques after Friday prayers.
Meerut and Muzaffarnagar districts, too, witnessed brick-batting during protests. In Bulandshahr, protesters resorted to arson and set two vehicles ablaze.
In Bhadohi, sporadic incidents of protesters pelting police with stones were reported during the day. Superintendent of Police (SP) Bhadohi RB Singh said police lathi-charged the protesters to disperse them.
Tension prevailed in Varanasi, Prayagraj, Shamli, Hapur, Deoband (Saharanpur), Bijnor and Ferozabad after people came out on the roads holding placards and shouting slogans demanding the roll-back of CAA.