New Delhi: The situation in Uttar Pradesh worsened further on Friday, with the death toll reportedly climbing to 15, including an eight-year-old child in Varanasi, during state-wide protests against the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act/ National Register of Citizens (NRC).
While media and news agency reports put the death toll at 15 till Saturday, UP’s Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh confirmed five deaths. Singh also maintained that police did not open fire.
"All the deaths that took place have been in cross firing and this will become clear in postmortem examination," the DGP told reporters, as per a PTI report.
Out of 15 deaths, four were reported in Meerut district, two each in Bijnore, Sambhal, Firozabad and Kanpur, and one each in Rampur, Lucknow and Varanasi, said the report.
The highest death toll was reported from Meerut in Western UP. A top hospital source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told NewClick that all the people who died in Meerut reportedly had bullet injuries. "As of now probably five people have died since yesterday (Friday). The death toll can rise further as lots of people are admitted to various hospitals in a pretty bad condition in the city. Several casualties had taken place."
In Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency, an eight-year-old child, Mohammad Sagir of Bajardiha area, succumbed to his injuries reportedly caused due to the stampede during clashes in the city on Friday. The child was buried amid tight police security on Saturday morning. According to local media, Sagir was playing in the narrow lane when the stampede took place after the police baton-charged protesters.
The first death of a 28-yer-old man was reported in Lucknow on Thursday during the worst violence the state capital has witnessed in recent times.
According to the police, the protests had turned violent in many areas, leading to the use of lathi-charge and teargas shells. Over 3,000 people have been detained across the state in the last two days, officials and doctors confirmed on Saturday.
In Bahraich district, the dispersed crowds held a massive anti-CAA/NRC protest on Friday, which went largely unreported in mainstream media. A journalist based in Bahriach told NewsClick that "though nobody died during the protest, a large number of people were injured due to police lathi-charge.” Over 38 people have been arrested and six FIRs have been registered, he added.
Among the cities that saw massive anti CAA/NRC protests on Friday were Lucknow, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Meerut and Sambhal.
Meanwhile, protests continued on Saturday in Kanpur and Rampur. Thousands of agitators in Kanpur held flowers in their hands and also made a human chain to register their protest.
However, news agency PTI cited officials saying clashes between anti-CAA/NRC protesters and the police in Rampur on Saturday, resulting in injuries to several people, including some policemen. The protesters had given a band call in Rampur, defying the imposition of Section 144.
Thousands Booked, Activists/Journalist Beaten Up
In a massive crackdown on human rights workers and social/political activists in the state, the Uttar Pradesh police have arrested several activists in Lucknow during the protests.
Senior lawyer, human rights activist and president of Rihai Manch, Shoaib Ahmad, has been in police custody since late Thursday. Speaking to NewsClick, Rajeev Yadav, member of Rihai March confirmed Shoaib’s arrest.
Omar Rashid, a journalist with the English daily, The Hindu, along with Robin Verma of Rihai Manch, was picked up for a couple of hours after Friday's protest. According to Rashid, Verma was allegedly brutally thrashed by the UP police inside the police station, while he faced abuse, humiliation and anti-Muslim slurs by the police. In his account published today, Rashid also said that one policeman also threatened to tear out his beard.
Rashid said the Lucknow Police repeatedly brought up his Kashmiri identiy, and even accused him of hiding Kashmiris.
Meanwhile, Meerut, Allahabad, Bahraich police have slapped cases on thousands of people who participated in Friday’s protest, including the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
Internet services continued to be suspended across major cities, following state government orders. These include Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Mathura, Meerut, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bareli, Firozadad, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Shamli, Sambhal, Amroha, Mau, Azamgarh and Sultanpur.
The Aligarh Muslim University campus, too, saw protests on Saturday with hundreds of non-teaching staff joining hands with AMU Teachers' Association, protesting against the CAA/NRC and "police atrocities" against the agitators in various parts of the state on Friday.
SSP Aligarh Ashok Kulhari said protests were peaceful.
Meanwhile, AMU vice chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor has set up a one-man internal probe panel consisting of retired chief justice of Chhattisgarh high court, VK Gupta, to look into the violence that rocked the campus on December 15-16 that left several students injured after the police was called in.
Also Read: Anti-CAA Protests Spread to 15 Cities in UP, 6 Killed in Violence