At least six people were killed and 5 others sustained serious injuries during anti-Citizenship Act protests across BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh on Friday, the police said. While two protesters were killed in Bijnore, one each died in Kanpur, Meerut, Sambhal and Firozabad after protests turned violent.
From Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home turf Gorakhpur, violent protests rocked Uttar Pradesh against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), that excludes Muslims while granting Indian citizenship to illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
At least 11 people were injured in Kanpur after clashes broke out between police and anti-CAA protesters. According to the initial reports, most of them sustained bullet injuries and were being treated at the Hallet Hospital in critical condition. As per the reports, gun shots were fired by police as well as protesters. However, it was not clear who opened fire first.
Even though the Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh denied firing a single bullet, reports claimed that most of the injured sustained bullet injuries. News agency PTI reported that at least 50 police personnel also sustained "serious injuries" during the clashes.
The clashes broke out in as many as 15 Uttar Pradesh districts as thousands of protesters hit streets in Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Hapur, Bahraich, Bulandshahr and many other parts of the state to register their protest against the contentious law.
In Ghaziabad near national capital Delhi, the police resorted to lathi charge against the protesters, who also said to have pelted stones at them. Several protesters were injured after in the police action while some policemen were also reportedly injured in the clashes. In videos, police in riot gears can be seen chasing away the protesters with batons and guns in their hand. In wake of fresh killings, ban on mobile internet services in Ghaziabad has also been extended till 10 am on Saturday.
In Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home constituency Gorakhpur, hundreds of protesters gathered around the city's Jama Masjid after Friday prayers. The protesters, who were raising anti-CAA and anti-government slogans were seen pelting stones at police personnel, who also lathi-charged on them.
Meanwhile, Sporadic violence was reported from other parts of the country, including national capital Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka-Kerala border, where authorities resorted to lathi charge and tear gas shelling to disperse the protesters.
Mobile internet and SMS services were also curbed in various regions, including parts of UP, Karnataka and the national capital. Some groups, however, offered roses to the police to underline peaceful nature of their protest.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi came out with a statement and said that the Modi government has shown "utter disregard for people's voices and used brute force to suppress dissent". She said the CAA was discriminatory and the proposed NRC will particularly hurt poor and vulnerable.