New Delhi: As many as five persons were killed in violence during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Uttar Pradesh, DGP O.P. Singh reportedly told PTI. Media outlets had originally reported the number as six.
Of the five casualties, two were reported from Bijnore, and one each from Firozabad, Sambhal and Meerut, the news agency quoted Singh as having said.
NDTV quoted Singh as having said that not one bullet was fired by police.
“We did not shoot even a single bullet,” he said, even as another officer claimed that “if any firing happened, it was from the protesters’ side”.
Uttar Pradesh government’s Additional Chief Secretary, Awanish Kumar Awasthi: 5 people died today in the violence during protests against #CitizenshipAmendmentAct, across the state. (file pic) pic.twitter.com/ZryS0VaZ02
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) December 20, 2019
The police have also detained activists Meera Sanghamitra, Arundhati Dhuru and Madhavi Kuckreja at Hazratganj Police station in Lucknow.
Sanghamitra, Kuckreja and Dhuru were released later in the night. In a Facebook post, Sanghamitra called the detention “arbitrary and unlawful”.
“We in fact walked into the thana to find out the whereabouts of senior activists S.R. Darapuri and Advocate Shohaib who were arrested earlier in the day. Instead, we were falsely and rudely accused by police of ‘instigating violence’ at the protest yesterday and were kept in the mahila thana. They took all out details, confiscated phones. We in fact went with the son of Darapuriji (Ved Kumar) who also wanted to give him his cancer medicines,” she wrote.
The Hindu‘s UP correspondent, Omar Rashid was also detained along with Rihai Manch activist Robin Verma for the whole day today.
“Robin and I were picked up by policemen in plainclothes from outside BJP office in Lucknow. I was speaking to Robin there for a story and was waiting for a press conference alert by the UP government. Then two people came and took us to the Hazratganj police station,” he said.
“Throughout the day, they asked me questions about my Kashmiri identity and whether I had any role in the protest violence that happened in UP. I kept telling them that I am a journalist, but they didn’t listen. When I was being quizzed, I could hear the police beating up Robin in the other room. Throughout, they kept abusing me with communal slurs,” Rashid told The Wire.
“I was finally interrogated by one senior officer whose name I don’t remember, but he let me off after saying that the men who picked me up were ‘constable-level people’,” he said. Rashid was released later in the evening at around 8 pm. He has been with The Hindu for more than five years. According to him, Robin Verma has been arrested by the police.
Like December 19, December 20 too saw massive protests across the state, against the CAA. However, it is not clear at all whether the violence was perpetrated by protesters or by police or those who particularly intended to render the protests disruptive.
Several parts of the state is under Section 144, which prevents four or more people from converging.
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) December 20, 2019
Meanwhile, in an unprecedented clampdown, internet services were suspended across major cities in Uttar Pradesh among other states, as the Adityanath government doubled down on efforts to check the spread of rage against the new citizenship law.
Internet access over mobile phones was suspended in major towns in Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Mathura, Meerut, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bareli, Firozadad, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Shamli, Sambhal, Amroha, Mau, Azamgarh and Sultanpur following explicit state government orders, telecom industry officials said.
Broadband internet services were also suspended in some cities, including Lucknow and Ghaziabad. In Ghaziabad, especially, all schools have been closed in view of the violence.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi in an order issued on December 19 stated that “messaging systems like SMS and WhatsApp and social media systems like Facebook and YouTube may be used extensively for the transmission of information like pictures, videos and texts that have the potential to inflame passions and thus exacerbate the law and order situation.”
“Therefore, in order to prevent the possible misuse” of messaging platforms and internet “to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the city and create further law and order situation and in order that normalcy may maintain” temporary suspension of SMS messages and mobile internet/data services of all telecom service providers is ordered for next 45 hours beginning 1500 hours on December 19, he said.