Over 100 people were arrested from six districts in Uttar Pradesh after violent protests broke out in different parts of the state over BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s recent remarks on Prophet Mohammad. Protesters pelted stones at policemen in Prayagraj and Saharanpur while protests broke out in four other cities.
In Prayagraj, some motorcycles and carts were set on fire and an attempt was made to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse mobs and peace was later restored, they said, adding that one policeman was hurt in the region.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said that those involved in vandalisation have been identified and all the damages will be procured from them.
“All those who indulged in vandalisation have been identified, cases being filed against them under serious sections. Procurement for all damages will be done; properties of the guilty will be seized under Gangsters Act. No one will be spared,” Kumar said.
He said 38 protesters were arrested from Saharanpur, 15 from Prayagraj, 24 from Hathras, seven from Moradabad, two from Firozabad and 23 people from Ambedkar Nagar.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath chaired-level meeting with the top police officials of the state and directed strict against those involved in vandalisation and violence. “CM Yogi Adityanath begins a meeting with top officials over today’s incidents. The CM has given liberty and clear instructions to the officials to take stringent action against anti-social elements. Those who take the law into their hands will be taught strict lessons,” the chief minister’s office said in a statement.
There was slogan-shouting against the now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her remarks during a TV debate, also triggering outrage in several Islamic nations.
In Saharanpur, protesters demanded a death sentence for her. There were also protests in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow over the controversial remarks. Sloganeering took place in Lucknow.
According to local people, stone pelting continued for over 15 minutes in Prayagraj. They said some of the miscreants pelted stones at the police personnel deployed on the main road, as the situation escalated when more people joined the stone pelters.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said, “Minor force was used to stop some people involved in the violence. The situation in Prayagraj is now peaceful. I would like to appeal to people to use democratic ways of protest without resorting to violence.”
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh’s Director General of Police (DGP) D S Chauhan said no life has been lost because of the proper arrangements made by the state police. “Because of our preparedness, no life has been lost. We will take strict action against those found involved in the violence,” he said.
Additional Director General (ADG), Parayagraj Zone, Prem Prakash said a constable of Rapid Action Force (RAF) was injured during stone pelting in the region. Additional police force and teams of RAF were rushed to the spot. The police also fired tear gas shells and used force to stop the miscreants, he said.
In Saharanpur, people holding placards raised slogans against Nupur Sharma. Some of them also turned violent after the security personnel tried to stop them. This led to brief stone pelting in the Nehru market area of the city. Some madrasa students also raised slogans in the Deoband area. The protestors also raised slogans demanding capital punishment for the BJP leader.
District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh told PTI, “Police had to retort to force when the protesters refused to hear the appeals of peace by police personnel. The protestors are being identified using CCTV footage for further action.”
Four people, including the district president of AIMIM, were arrested in Bijnor as a precautionary measure. Superintendent of Police Dharamveer Singh said AIMIM district chief Abdullah along with one Iftekhar, Mahroof and Akil were arrested for inciting communal hatred. According to police, the accused called a gathering near Purani Musfi area in Bijnor.
The arrests were made on the complaint of people from the Muslim community, the SP said. People demanded action against the BJP leader and waved banners with “Arrest Nupur Sharma” written on them in Rampur and Moradabad.
In Kanpur, which was the epicentre of communal violence last week, the Friday prayers were held in a peaceful manner with no reports of any untoward incident. The prayers were held in a watertight security vigil by police personnel. A heavy police force was deployed in the area with senior police and administrative officials present on the spot.
This comes following clashes last week in Kanpur over the remarks on the Prophet at a TV debate some days earlier. A high alert was issued across the state after that, and a heavy police force was deployed to ensure that violence does not occur again.