Updated: December 19, 2019 10:37:45 pm
One person died in Lucknow Thursday as protests against the citizenship Act, which had begun peacefully, turned violent in the afternoon, with stone-pelting, police outposts being set ablaze, and several vehicles, including OB vans of media-houses, burnt.
However, police said it was yet to be verified whether the deceased, Mohammad Wakeel, was part of the protest. UP DGP OP Singh said he thought the death had no connection with the agitation or the police reaction.
Madheyganj and Sakhanda police outposts in Lucknow were vandalised by the mob, which first pelted stones and later set ablaze the vehicles parked outside. Following the sudden attack, policemen inside both outposts ran out for safety. Media persons, policemen — including an inspector-rank officer — and protesters sustained injuries in the melee. Police had to resort to lathicharge and use tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Inspector General, Law and Order, Praveen Kumar said they were trying to identify miscreants through videography done on the spot and strict action would be taken against them. Kumar told the media in the evening that the situation was under control now.
As many as 3,000 people have been issued notices in the state, in which police have asked them not to indulge in any kind of offences. Police have also detained several persons in the state at their residence, including Magsaysay award winner and social activist Sandeep Pandey.
Congress state chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was also detained by police around 2.30 pm from Parivartan chowk.
At least 10 vehicles, including cars and motorcycles, were torched by a mob that largely came from the road coming from the old city to the heart of the city in Hazratganj. The Parivartan Chowk, which is an important intersection, witnessed protesters coming from all sides.
A motorcycle belonging to The Indian Express’s photographer was among the vehicles burnt.
Around 1.30 pm, when the protesters started trickling in to Hazratganj, police were seen detaining and chasing them. Between 1.30 pm and 2 pm, several protesters were detained and sent away in private and police vehicles to other places. Anyone seen holding placards against the CAA and the NRC was detained by the police. People from different walks of life had gathered at Hazratganj, including lawyers and students. Several Samajwadi Party workers also took part.
While many protesters were seen sitting peacefully at different spots around the Parivartan Chowk, the protest turned violent around 3.30 pm, when a group of protesters, mostly youths, started pelting stones from across a police barricade, leading to chaos.
A protester, who had been sitting peacefully on one side of the road, said he was part of CPIM Lucknow’s unit and was protesting peacefully when arson started from one side.
“We had been protesting since 1.30 pm and there was no violence. We had been coordinating with the police and they had assured us of our safety. We had also assured them that our protest would be peaceful,” the protester said, while raising a slogan, “Police pe haath nahi uthayenge.”
A 42-year-old woman protester, who claimed to be a social activist, said some “political people” indulged in violence. “Some people swamped the Parivartan Chowk and indulged in arson and violence all of a sudden. We saw them running and shouting slogans at the top of their voice. Before that, the protest was completely peaceful.”
Sambhal: 20 arrests, internet suspended
In Sambhal, a roadways bus was set ablaze and another was vandalised along with several private vehicles in violence that went on for around an hour. So far, around 20 persons have been arrested and more arrests are in process. Internet facilities, which were restored Wednesday, have again been snapped till further orders.
Several members and leaders of the Samajwadi Party were under house arrest from early Thursday as they had announced a protest programme on the day. While the police was focused mainly on the SP protest earlier in the day, around 1.30 pm, a crowd of thousands gathered near Chaudhary Sarai police outpost in Kotwali police station and soon, violence erupted.
“Everything is normal and under control in the district now. Around 20 arrests have been made so far, while identification and search is on, with more arrests expected. Internet facilities have been shut and will be restored not before tomorrow. One roadway bus was set ablaze and another was vandalised, with its glasses broken. Police officers are doing a flag-march in the affected area,” Sambhal District Magistrate (DM) Avinash Krishna Singh told The Indian Express.
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