Uttar Pradesh is the worst-affected state by the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act with violence erupting mainly in 12 districts, including Firozabad, Rampur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Bahraich. Nineteen people have been killed so far — at least 14 victims are Muslims who died of bullet injuries from firearms. In at least two cases, the police have admitted to firing in “self-defence”. On 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.
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.
Here’s how protests played out in Uttar Pradesh and the stories of violence that we know so far
Minors, mostly school students, are among the thousands arrested, detained, put on notice, or injured, in different cities in Uttar Pradesh, following protests against the new citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In Sambhal, among the 42 arrested, families of at least two claimed that they were boys aged 16 and 17, respectively — both were arrested late last Thursday. In one case, The Indian Express accessed Aadhaar details that show the detainee’s year of birth as 2003.
While police claimed that no minor had been detained, the two families have alleged that their boys have been lodged in Bareilly jail for a week. Protests in Sambhal had turned violent last Thursday, leaving two dead.
Aligarh police have booked 1,200 students of Aligarh Muslim University for holding a candlelight march on Tuesday evening, saying that they had violated the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC.
Late on Thursday evening, Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhary assured a delegation of AMU students that the case will be dropped since it was a peaceful march.
While the students said that the candlelight march was held within the campus, the police claimed that it was held outside on the city road and, therefore, was in violation of Section 144.
Three people were injured during the December 19 protest in Lucknow. While one of them is already dead, the other two have not been identified by police as injured protesters. While 15-year-old Mohammad Jeelani was on his way back home, 17-year-old Mohammad Shameem was going to his sister’s place when he found himself in the middle of the clash. Both were shot in the abdomen and neither of their families have resources to pay for their medical expenses.
Mohammad Wakeel (32) is the one who died of a bullet injury in Lucknow. According to his family, Wakeel was not out to protest but had gone to buy groceries and medicines after there were rumours that curfew will be imposed.
Amid criticism for opening fire during a protest against the newly enacted law, the Kanpur Police said the firing was in “self-defence” and “in the air.” A video grab surfaced showing a police sub-inspector purportedly loading his pistol, amid the sound of gunfire. The video appeared to be from Yateemkhana area in Kanpur. Director-General of Police O P Singh has said no one was killed in police firing in the state and blamed the two deaths in Kanpur mostly on “cross-firing”.
In Bijnor two people have been killed in the protests. One of them identified as Mohammad Suleman, died after he was shot by the police in “self-defence.” According to Bijnor police’s initial report, the mob snatched a service pistol from an officer and fired at another officer, identified as Mohit Kumar. “A bullet hit Mohit’s stomach. In reply, Mohit also fired from his service pistol and the bullet hit Suleman’s stomach,” the report said. The police, however, did not find any weapon on Suleman. Neither have the police been able to locate the service pistol that was allegedly snatched.
Suleman’s family, however, said he was returning from a mosque after offering namaz when the police picked him up. They took him into a lane near a madrasa and shot him. When the family reached the spot, Usmani claimed, they were not allowed to take the body. The police took it straight to Bijnor for the post mortem.
The family of Anas, 20, who also died in the violence, said he had stepped out to get milk for his seven-month-old son when the police shot him from more than hundred metres away.
Till December 22, 2019, the death toll in the citizenship law protests was 16. Fourteen of the 16 killed across the state succumbed to “firearm injuries”, senior police officers from eight districts confirmed to The Indian Express. The other two had died due to injuries in the stampede.
Mohammad Raees (30) was brought to his home in Kanpur on a vegetable cart by a group of children from the neighbourhood. He bled all night, but the family was terrified to take him outside. Next morning he died on his way to the hospital. “People told us that if we take our son to the hospital, police will lodge cases against other members of the family for rioting,” Raees’ father said. He had gone for Friday prayers at Eidgah mosque when he was caught in the protests. “He kept telling us that the police shot him. He was shot in the stomach,” Raees’ mother said.
Faiz Khan (24) was shot in the neck in Rampur. The evening before, Mohammed Sheroz (23) was shot in the lower abdomen in the neighbouring district of Sambhal. Both of them succumbed to their injuries within hours. Their families say both worked as drivers, and were on their way to work when they were killed in firing during protests. But what their families are really struggling to come to terms with is this: the apathy and negligence that shunted them from one hospital to another, and the pleading with police for hours to hand over the bodies.
Aligarh Muslim University was among the first places where the violence had broken out in protest of the citizenship law. A fact-finding report — based on anonymous testimonies of students, teachers and others present on campus — alleged that police used stun grenades, “usually used in war-like situations or terror operations”, against the students. The report concluded that there were “unbridled human rights violations” and the university administration failed in their “duty to protect the campus and its residents against brutality by Uttar Pradesh Police”.
Denying the report’s claims, the police have said that students initiated the violence and minimum force was used for self-defence. Former IAS officer Harsh Mander, academic Nandini Sundar, rights activist John Dayal and author Natasha Badhwar were part of the 13-member team who probed the incident that took place on December 15, when a group of students gathered at Bab-e-Syed gate to protest against the police action in Jamia Millia Islamia.
The police on their part charged 26 people for an attempt to murder in connection with the violence. The FIR stated that students fired at police with countrymade pistols. According to police, 21 security personnel were injured in the protests out of which three were hospitalised. University officials, on the other hand, had said that four students were injured in the clashes. The students though put the number of those injured between 25 and 30.
The Rampur district administration issued notices to 28 people, including an embroidery worker and a hawker of spices who are already in custody, to make recoveries for damage worth Rs 14.86 lakh. Holding the 28 responsible for violence, the administration listed things like police jeep of Bhot police station (Rs 750,000), motorcycle of a sub-inspector (Rs 65,000), motorcycle of City Kotwali police station (Rs 90,000), wireless set, hooter/loudspeaker, 10 dandas, three helmets, three body protectors. The alleged miscreants were identified using video clips and photographs, the police said.
Six people were killed in the protests in Meerut. Though both police and residents blamed each other for starting the violence, the protesters said no shots were fired from their side, a claim the police contests. While the police claim that “the protestors had fired” and that 18 shells of 32 bore, 37 of 315 bore and 14 of 12 bore had been recovered from the sites, locals deny the allegation.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were stopped by Meerut police while they were on their way to meet the bereaved families of the six killed. Both the leaders did not make any statements regarding the Meerut violence to mediapersons before returning to New Delhi.
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