Uttar Pradesh remained largely peaceful amid tight security arrangements on Friday, a week after the state saw large-scale violence by anti-citizenship law protestors after Friday prayers.
"The entire state was peaceful," Uttar Pradesh DGP OP Singh told PTI. He said there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the state. The state was placed under a thick security cover with deployment of central paramilitary forces in sensitive areas. DGP said the toll in the clashes remained at 19.
According to PTI, drones were used to keep a hawk-eyed vigil, especially in areas where violence had broken out last week after Friday prayers. Internet services were suspended in several districts of the state to check rumour-mongering.
Protesters had hurled stones at policemen and set vehicles on fire. Police used lathis, lobbed tear-gas and have admitted to opening fire in self defence in some places.
Reports from Moradabad, Amroha and Hathras districts said the juma namaz was offered at various mosques and the congregations dispersed peacefully. In state capital Lucknow, a heavy deployment of paramilitary force personnel was seen outside the historic Tiley Wali Masjid in the Old City area.
Patrolling had been intensified in sensitive areas across Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Friday prayers. Around 3,500 personnel of central paramilitary forces and 12,000 jawans of the UP Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were on the job to maintain peace, the state police chief said.
As a precautionary measure, Internet services which were resumed after nearly a week, were suspended again in over 20 of the 75 UP districts including Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Agra.
In Gorakhpur, police staged a flag march in Thursday in sensitive areas and held meetings with peace committees to avoid a repeat of the previous Friday's protests.
Police have faced flak over the manner in which they handled last week's violent protests, with human rights activists accusing them of using excessive force and targetting innocent people. Most of the deaths during the violence had taken place due to firearm injuries. Officials claimed there was firing at some places by protesters but police opened fire at a couple of places only in self defence.
A senior police officer said they also suspected the involvement of the Popular Front of India (PFI), which is allegedly influenced by the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned terror outfit. The protests were over Citizenship Amendment Act that offers easier citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Parsis who came to India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 after facing religious persecution. It excludes Muslims.