AS PROTESTS turned violent in parts of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow and Sambhal, on Thursday, with protesters pelting stones and torching vehicles, police resorted to lathi-charge and fired tear-gas shells to disperse the crowd.
Taking a tough stand, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his government would take “revenge” on those involved in the violence by confiscating their properties. “Iss hinsa mein lipt pratyek tatwa ki property ko zapt karenge, aur uss zapt se sarvajanik sampatti ko hue nuksaan ya kahin par public property ko jo damage kiya gaya hai, iski bharapaee bhi hum un sabhi upadraviyon se karenge. Kyunki yeh sab chinhit chehre hain. Wo sab videography mein aa chuke hain, CCTV ke footage mein aa chuke hain. In sab ki property ko zapt kar ke, inse hum iska badla lenge aur sakhti se nipatne ke liye maine iske baare mein kaha hai,” he said.
(“The property of each element involved in this violence will be confiscated, and used to recover compensation for public property which was damaged. All their faces have been identified. They are visible in the videography and CCTV footage. We will take revenge by confiscating their properties, I have ordered strict action.”)
In Lucknow’s Hazratganj area, protesters, including students, lawyers, social activists and political workers, started gathering around 1.30 pm. In the next half-an-hour, several protesters were detained and sent away in private and police vehicles. State Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was detained from Parivartan Chowk, near Hazaratganj area, around 2.30 pm.
Around 3.30 pm, a group of protesters, mostly youths, started pelting stones from across a police barricade at Parivartan Chowk. At least 10 private vehicles, including an OB van of a news channel, were set on fire. Police then used lathi-charge and tear-gas to disperse the protesters.
A protester said the arson started suddenly. “We had been protesting peacefully since 1.30 pm. We were coordinating with police, and they assured us of our safety. We also assured them that our protest would be peaceful,” he said.
A woman protester said some “political workers” indulged in violence. “They swamped the Parivartan Chowk and indulged in arson and violence all of a sudden… Before that, the protest was peaceful,” she said.
Protesters also vandalised Madheyganj and Sakhanda police outposts, in the Old City area, first pelting stones and later setting ablaze vehicles parked outside.
Inspector General, Law and Order, Praveen Kumar said they were trying to identify those involved in the violence, and strict action would be taken against them.
Violent protests were also reported from Sambhal in the afternoon. According to sources, several SP leaders and workers were placed under house arrest early in the day, as they had announced a protest.
Around 1.30 pm, protesters gathered near Chaudhary Sarai police outpost, in Kotwali police station area of Sambhal, and indulged in violence. A state roadways bus was set ablaze and another was vandalised, along with several private vehicles, in the violence that continued for an hour.
“The situation is under control now. Around 20 arrests have been made so far; an identification and search process is still on, and more arrests are expected. Internet facilities have been suspended… Police personnel are carrying out a flag-march in the affected area. Serious action will be taken against those involved in today’s violence,” said Sambhal District Magistrate (DM) Avinash Krishna Singh.
The UP police said 3,417 people were taken into custody across the state as part of preventive action. While 13 FIRs have been registered for objectionable posts on social media, five persons have been arrested. According to the police statement, 16 police personnel were injured in Lucknow and two others in Sambhal.
Meanwhile, Internet services have been suspended in parts of the state.
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