At least five persons died as violent protests over the amended Citizenship Act intensified across western Uttar Pradesh on Friday while a car was set on fire in Delhi’s Daryaganj area, prompting the Home Ministry to clarify that no Indian would be harassed by asking to submit old documents to prove citizenship.
Sporadic violence was reported from Maharashtra and Karnataka-Kerala border areas as well, a day after three persons were killed in alleged police firing — two in the coastal Karnataka city of Mangalore and one in the Old Lucknow locality of UP. Follow LIVE Updates
CAA protests: Vehicles torched, arson in Uttar Pradesh
Stone pelting and arson broke out in Uttar Pradesh’s Bhadohi, Bahraich, Amroha, Farurukhabad, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Hapur, Hathras, Bulandshahr, Hamirpur and Mahoba districts as protesters defied prohibitory orders and descended to the streets. At many places, police used lathis and lobbed tear gas shells to contain the crowd.
Confirming the deaths, Director General of Police O P Singh said two people lost their lives in Bijnor and one each in Meerut, Sambhal and Firozabad, PTI reported. Singh maintained that none of the deaths were due to police firing. The DGP said 50 policemen were seriously hurt.
At least six two-wheelers, including those of police, were set ablaze in Firozabad while a similar number of vehicles were also torched in Kanpur’s Babupurwa area. Additional DG (Kanpur zone) Prem Prakash 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. Large demonstrations against the new law, which allows citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who entered India before 2015, were organised after Friday prayers in Gorakhpur, the home district of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Internet services were suspended across major cities in Uttar Pradesh while security was beefed up in Lucknow with the deployment of armed police.
CAA protests: Violent protests erupt in Old Delhi
Barely 500 km away in the national capital, the Old Delhi area was the epicentre of protests against the amended Citizenship Act, which was passed by the Parliament earlier this month. Old Delhi’s Daryaganj and Delhi Gate was on the boil as protesters hurled stones at police personnel and set a vehicle on fire, prompting the cops to resort to lathicharge and use water cannons to disperse the crowd.
Earlier in the day, thousands of demonstrators trickled in near Jama Masjid where the Bhim Army had given a call for a protest march from the mosque to Jantar Mantar. Shouting slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ against the Citizenship law and raising banners reading ‘save Constitution’, protesters assembled near Jama Masjid’s Gate number 1, with Delhi Police using drone surveillance to keep a check on any untoward incidents.
In a dramatic sequence of events, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was on Friday detained from outside Jama Masjid but managed to give the police the slip. Azad managed to escape under the nose of the police amid resistance from the crowd. Chandrashekhar Azad ran from house to house and jumped across terraces to avoid getting caught. He later surfaced at the protest near Delhi Gate.
In the evening, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi joined a group of students protesting near the India Gate and called the CAA and NRC “anti-poor”. “This is basically anti-poor. The most affected will be the poor. If someone has to take out old documents about their land, will they be able to do that? Will your grandparents be able to show?” Gandhi said.
In a televised address, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said the Modi government had shown utter disregard for people’s voices and used brute force to suppress dissent. She said the CAA was discriminatory and the proposed NRC would particularly hurt poor and vulnerable.
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