NEW DELHI: At least 15 persons died, several injured and hundreds of others were detained as violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 continued in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Maharashtra. In Uttar Pradesh, which has been the worst hit due to the anti-CAA protests, at least fifteen deaths were confirmed due to the violent protests against the Citizenship law.
UP Police chief OP Singh on Saturday maintained that cops ‘did not fire a single bullet’ at the protesters, suggesting that those who died were caught in cross-firing between protesters.
”Stones were thrown, arson was reported. The protesters fired illegal weapons. I don’t think the police had any other option. But I should make it clear that nowhere did the police resort to firing and not a single bullet was fired at the protesters. Protesters died in firing among themselves. This will become clear after the postmortem,” OP Singh said. He further assured that if any person was killed in police firing, a probe will be ordered.
“We are clear and transparent about this. If anyone died due to our firing, we will conduct a judicial inquiry and take action. But nothing happened from our side,” he asserted. On Friday, protesters clashed with police at several places in the state, hurling stones at them and torching vehicles, in which fifty policemen were also seriously injured. In a separate press briefing, State Inspector General (Law and Order) Praveen Kumar said 263 police personnel were injured of which 57 personnel received firearm injuries. He said 705 persons have been arrested.
"In protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since December 10 in the state, 705 have been arrested and around 4,500 people were released after preventive arrest. Fifteen casualties have happened. As many as 124 FIRs have been registered," he said. Kumar said that a large number of illegal weapons were used in the violence during protests. "A total of 405 bullet shells of the country-made pistol were recovered from protest sites," he said.
Police officials said 63 people were booked and 102 arrested for posting and spreading rumours and misinformation on social media related to the CAA. "Over 14,100 posts on social media having fake news and misinformation were tacked and action was taken," they said. Violence during the anti-CAA protests has so far claimed lives in Bijnor, Sambhal, Ferozabad, Kanpur, Varanasi and Meerut in the state. Lucknow, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Meerut and Sambhal were some of the areas that were worst-hit by the anti-CAA protests.
Mobile internet services remain suspended in Aligarh, Mau, Azamgarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Sambhal and Allahabad in view of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Police were mainly targeted when they stopped people from taking out processions in defiance of prohibitory orders in places all over the state. Dozens of vehicle belongings to police and media persons were set ablaze by protesters.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Saturday sent all 15 accused in the Daryaganj violence case, during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, to two days judicial custody. Metropolitan Magistrate Arjinder Kaur also directed counsel for the accused persons to approach the registry for filing the bail pleas, which would be heard on Monday. During the course of hearing, the police had sought 14 days custody. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was on Saturday sent to 14-day judicial custody after a Delhi court rejected his bail application following his arrest in connection with the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 protests in the national capital.
While the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) on Saturday called upon its ally BJP to convene a meeting of ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the proposal to have a countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Congress announced its plan to hold a dharna at Delhi’s Raj Ghat on December 23, from 3 pm to 8 pm.
According to reports, all the top party leaders including interim president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be present at the dharna.
”Congress Party senior leaders will undertake a satyagraha at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi at Raj Ghat, day after tomorrow, December 23, 2019, from 3 pm to 8 pm. In line with the path of non-violent, yet consistent and unequivocal opposition shown by the Father of the Nation, the Party’s satyagraha will fight against this dictatorial Government and to protect Baba Saheb’s sacred Constitution”, read a statement from KC Venugopal, General Secy, AICC.
In a related development, AAP MLA and Delhi Waqf Board chairman Amanatullah Khan on Saturday announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those who lost their lives during protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), across the country. The compensation will be paid by the Delhi Waqf Board.
Protests erupted across the country over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which seeks to grant citizenship to refugees from Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who entered India on or before 31, 2014.