NEW DELHI -Six people were killed in Uttar Pradesh in police firing on Friday as thousands of people held massive protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in major towns and cities of India.
According to media reports, six people were killed in various parts of BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh when police opened fire upon groups of people holding anti-CAA demonstrations on Friday afternoon. One person has been killed each in Meerut, Sambhal, Kanpur and Firozabad and two died in Bijnor as the protests turned violent, reports said. Around two dozen people have also been injured in the protests.
Director General of Police O P Singh, however, confirmed only five deaths during the violence in about 20 districts.
Singh said that two people lost their lives in Bijnor and one each in Meerut, Sambhal and Firozabad. But officials reported a death in Kanpur as well.
The cause of death would be known after a post-mortem on the victims, officials said. Singh maintained that none of the deaths were due to police firing.
Several people were injured. The DGP said 50 policemen were seriously hurt.
The violence comes a day after police dealt with angry protesters in Lucknow and Sambhal districts — and amid internet curbs in many districts to curb rumour-mongering.
Stone-pelting or more serious clashes with police were also reported from Bhadohi, Bahraich, Amroha, Farurukhabad, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Hapur, Hathras, Bulandshahr, Hamirpur and Mahoba districts.
At many places police used lathis, lobbed tear-gas shells and, according to some officials, rubber bullets when they failed to contain angry mobs.
Police were often targeted when they stopped people from taking out processions in defiance of prohibitory orders in places all over the state.
At least six vehicles, including those of police, were set ablaze in Firozabad, forcing police to use tear-gas shells to disperse the mobs.
Half a dozen vehicles, mostly of policemen, were also torched in Kanpur’s Babupurwa area and six people were hurt in the city, Additional DG (Kanpur zone) PremPrakash said.
He said 10 people allegedly involved in arson and stone- pelting were arrested.
In Meerut’s Islamabad locality, protesters targeted a police post, setting fire to some furniture and a motorcycle parked nearby.
Internet services were suspended across major cities in Uttar Pradesh, following state government orders.
These included Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra,Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Mathura, Meerut, Moradabad,Muzaffarnagar, Bareli, Firozadad, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Shamli, Sambhal, Amroha, Mau, Azamgarh and Sultanpur.
Lucknow and Aligarh, which have been the scenes of clashes in recent days over the citizenship law, remained largely calm.
In Aligarh, where a red alert had been sounded by the administration, Friday prayers passed off peacefully, SSP AkashKulhari said.
Peace calls were made from mosques in Muslim-dominated areas in the morning, including by the Shahr Mufti Khalid Hamed who urged people to ignore rumours.
Security was tightened in the state capital with the deployment of armed police, and senior officials said the Friday prayers passed off peacefully in Lucknow.
But many people stayed away from major markets, a day after a man died during a protest demonstration in Lucknow’s Old City.
In areas deemed sensitive by authorities, police conducted flag marches.
In Bahraich, six people, including two policemen, were injured. Around 40 men were arrested there.
In Bhadohi, people taking part in a protest march clashed with police. Officials said tear-gas shells were fired and mild force used against them.
Bhadohi SP Ram Badan Singh said the protesters hurled stones and damaged several two-wheelers.
Large demonstrations were organised after Friday prayers in Gorakhpur, the home district of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Police fired tear-gas shells in Gorakhpur’s Khoonipur area to disperse protesters. There was tension in Ghantaghar, Shahmaroof, Nakhas and Ismailpur areas as people came out of mosques in large numbers and held demonstrations.
Clashes also took place in Chandausi area in Sambhal district, where two state roadways buses were damaged a day earlier. A case was registered against local Samajwadi Party MP ShafiqurRehmanBurq for defying prohibitory orders.
In Ghaziabad district, police reported stone-pelting at Muradnagar and Sahibabad’s Pasonda by people stopped from taking out processions. In Pasonda, police arrested 30 people.
Meanwhile, BJP ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has refused to implement the contentious National Register of Citizens in his state amid intense pan-India protests against NRC and the new citizenship law.
In the national capital, thousands of people rallied on Friday to continue their stir against the amended citizenship law, even as additional security arrangements were made in view of the Friday prayers and prohibitory orders were imposed in sensitive areas.
But a massive protest broke out in the Jama Masjid area soon after the afternoon prayers, while Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was detained after his outfit held a protest march despite denial of permission from police.
Bhim Army said police first tried to detain Azad at Jama Masjid itself but he managed to get away, before later being detained near Daryaganj. Before being detained, he was heard raising slogans against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and also reading out the preamble of Indian Constitution.
The police was seen using drones to keep a vigil, while Delhi Metro gates were closed at some stations, including in the Old Delhi areas.
The city saw protests at various other locations as well including outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University, with some groups of protesters offering roses to the police personnel to underline peaceful nature of their agitation against CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
A car was set on fire on Friday in Daryaganj area of Delhi during a protest against the new citizenship law, in first incident of arson in what had been a largely peaceful day of demonstration in the capital.
Police used water cannons and lathi-charged a large group of protesters who were trying to march from the old Delhi to Jantar Mantar. They were stopped at Delhi Gate by police.
In Karnataka, mobile internet and SMS services were suspended after the death of two people in Mangaluru in police firing on Thursday. The Karnataka government had on Thursday night ordered suspension of mobile internet data services for next 48 hours in Mangaluru City and Dakshina Kannada district.
Anti-CAA protesters also blocked Karnataka RTC buses in some parts of Kozhikode and raised slogans against the Mangaluru police action. The Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has suspended bus services to Mangaluru.
Karnataka police, on the other hand, restricted entry to Mangaluru for those coming from Kerala. At least 50 men and women who had arrived by a train from Kerala were taken into custody for trying to enter the city without identity cards.
Some mediapersons were detained for entering the Government Wenlock hospital where the post-mortem of those killed in the firing on Thursday was underway on Friday morning.
Police sources said protesters defying prohibitory orders attempted to lay siege to a police station in Mangaluru and tried to attack police personnel, following which force was used to disperse them.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa appealed to people to stay away from ‘vested interests’ indulging in rumour-mongering and assured his government’s commitment to protect the rights of all citizens.
In Kerala, police has been directed to maintain high vigil in northern districts in the wake of the killing of two persons in Mangaluru in neighbouring Karnataka.
In a Thursday night alert, state DGP D Loknath Behera instructed the force to be on high alert especially in the districts of Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kasaragod and Kannur, an official statement said.
A series of protest marches by different outfits and blocking of trains and buses were reported from various parts of Kerala past midnight after the news emerged about the deaths.
A large number of Congress workers blocked roads and burnt tyres in Kozhikode, while a group of activists also burnt an effigy of Home Minister Amit Shah.
However, mobile internet service resumed in Assam, ten days after it was banned during protests against the new law.
The Gauhati High Court had directed the Assam government to restore mobile internet service by 5 pm on Thursday.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said he will talk to leaders of anti- citizenship law agitation and his government was committed to safeguard the rights and honour of the state’s indigenous population.
Internet services remained suspended for the fifth consecutive day while banking services and businesses have been badly hit in the city, which has been witnessing continued demonstrations for the past few days.
The situation in West Bengal was largely peaceful with no fresh incident of violence, but vigil was stepped up by the police in several parts of the state to prevent any untoward incident during religious gatherings for Friday prayers.