As the death toll in protests against the new citizenship law climbed to 19 in Uttar Pradesh Thursday, the state police said it had arrested 1,113 people in 327 cases registered so far and placed another 5,558 people under preventive detention.
This is the biggest police crackdown in Uttar Pradesh since the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots when 1,480 people were arrested in 567 cases. The riots had claimed 63 lives and displaced an estimated 50,000 people.
Incidentally, the number of preventive arrests in the Kashmir Valley following the scrapping of Article 370 in August this year totalled 5,161, according to Minister of State (Home) G Kishan Reddy on November 19.
Among the people arrested in Lucknow are social activist and Congress worker Sadaf Jafar, retired IPS officer S R Darapuri (75), lawyer Mohammad Shueb (76), theatre artist Deepak Kabir, Robin Verma and Pawan Rao Ambedkar.
Darapuri, Shueb and Robin are members of the Rihai Manch while Pawan is a social activist. Shueb was initially under house arrest but he was picked up after the December 19 violence and arrested for allegedly instigating people to protest.
In UP, according to figures released by the DGP Headquarters, the 327 cases lodged so far relate to charges of arson, vandalism, attempt to murder, rioting, attack on police force and violation of CrPC Section 144. Preventive detentions have been made under CrPC Section 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences).
Officials said notices have been issued to 372 people, allegedly involved in acts of violence resulting in damage of public property, for recovery through attachment of their properties. Majority notices have been issued in Moradabad, Lucknow, Firozabad and Gorakhpur.
The death toll in violence during the protests climbed to 19 after two injured men died in Delhi hospitals early Thursday. Mohammad Haroon (30), who was admitted to AIIMS with a bullet lodged in his neck, died early Thursday morning. Mohammad Shafeeq (40), who was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday, also died Thursday.
Officials said the 19 dead were from Firozabad (6), Meerut (4), Kanpur (3), Sambhal (2), Bijnor (2), Lucknow (1) and Varanasi (1). An official statement said 288 policemen were injured in the violence, 61 with gunshot injuries.
Stating that protesters fired at their personnel, police said they had recovered 647 empty cartridges and 69 live cartridges of non-prohibited bores (.315 and 12 bores) from the spots in the affected districts. Police said they had also recovered 35 country-made pistols from those arrested and from different spots.
According to the police statement, rioters had snatched a service pistol from a Crime Branch inspector in Sambhal district on December 20 and it was yet to be recovered. As many as 124 people have been arrested from across the state in connection with 93 cases lodged over provocative and inflammatory posts on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. A total number of 19,409 such posts were detected and action initiated.
Special investigation teams, to be headed by Additional Superintendent of Police rank officers, have been formed in all affected districts to investigate cases, police said.
Taking preventive measures ahead of the Friday prayers and possible protests, police have gone on alert in all districts. Internet services have been suspended in Meerut, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr, Shamli and Agra.
DGP OP Singh has instructed all officers in the districts, police ranges and zones to stage flag marches in sensitive areas.
Stepping up vigil, ADG (Law and Order) P V Ramashastry said district SPs have been instructed to use drone cameras to identify houses with terraces where bricks and stones have been stored.
In Firozabad, police have identified at least 50 houses through drone cameras where bricks had been stored on terraces. Notices have been served to the house owners. Firozabad District Magistrate Chandra Vijay Singh said people have been told to remove the bricks immediately. In some places, police went to the houses to remove the bricks, he said.
— With ENS, New Delhi